Black Dynamite (Original Motion Picture Score)

In 1971 African American film director Melvin Van Peebles had a Richard Pryor moment. Fed up with presenting an acceptable version of blackness for The Man he figured it was time for something more confrontational. Something that would have the early 70's audience leaving the theatre thinking 'fuck yeah'. Essentially, a film that would stick it to The Man. Studios however where unlikely to want to fund such an outing. Having convinced a then relativity unknown group called Earth, Wind and Fire to record a soundtrack, Melvin took the innovative move of releasing the soundtrack in advance of the movie. Not only did this raise capital, it also promoted the movie in a way his non existent marketing budget would not have allowed. The film was Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. While arguably not Blaxsploitation as such itself, it paved the way for the birth of the genre. There was a market for confrontational, strong black characters kicking ass to funky beats. The Man may not have been too keen on the rising black radicalism of the late 60's and early 70's, but just like his fictional representation in the Blaxploitation films he did like money. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song's had in simple terms made a boat load of cash from a very small outlay. The Soundtrack had been a smash hit and tied funk and the fledging movie genre together in a way that had not happend before and has never really happened since. Cult classics like Shaft and Superfly where to follow, with soundtracks by Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield respectively.

So when Scott Sanders and Michael Jai White decided to create Black Dynamite, their loving homage to the genre , they knew it had to have a soundtrack to match. Scott called on friend and fellow DJ Adrian Younge, who set about writing and recording the music in his spare time. The self taught multi-instrumentalist playing around 15 different instruments across the album. Utilising analogue equipment has enabled Younge to produce a sound more akin to classic pre-80's recordings. However while there's no denying the ghosts of funk legends living and dead alike can be heard clearly in the musics influences there's also something distinctly modern and fresh about this set. I think that comes from Adrian being a beat digger. 30 years or more has passed since many original funk recordings where made. At least 20 since Hip Hops beatdigging late 80's golden age. This gives a modern musician a lot of insight into not just what works, but what really works. Its pretty likely everyone you have ever met has heard the Amen Break in some form or another, but almost no one could tell you anything about the track it comes from. Essentially this means the Black Dynamite score sounds like a record one would dream of unearthing in a lost dusty corner somewhere. Also while 70's deep funk is the primary influence there's a distinctly Euro-funk / library music influence which would not have been present at the time. Drawing influences particularly from Morricone and his lesser known compardres, men who created some of the best soundtrack music you've probably never heard. Primarily a funk set there's a hint heavy soul here, but thankfully the jazz influence is kept at a minimum and the dreaded disco-funk does not rear it's ugly head.

Though the film is a comedy homage, a loving parody if you like, this is a serious soundtrack. Sure the opening song in particular "Black Dynamites Themes" does contain some wildly funny exaggeration, but that's just channelling the spirit of Rudy Ray Moore. All the vocals are spot on really evoking the kind of emotion you hear in tracks from the period. I've listened to this album a lot since I got it and some of the highest praise I can give it as a complete set is I've never skipped a track once. It really is to quote the oft used phrase 'all killer, no filler'. For me the highlights being Jimmy's Dead and Chicago Wind, but with the love that went into creating this its a close run thing.

Much like Van Peeble's movie all those years ago Black Dynamite has found itself given an exceedingly limited release (Though I'm sure it will be popular on DVD). So chances are unless you've bittorented it (which is bound to happen when studios treat anticipated films like this) you have not seen the movie. Don't let that stop you picking up the soundtrack in advance however, after all that's what they did with Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Impress your friends and stick it to The Man with one simple purchase.

Adrian "AJ" Younge - "Shot Me In The Heart" (Black Dynamite OST)

Black Dynamite - Posters

Black Dynamite - Trailer

Check out the official site at www.blackdynamite.com

Listen to Chicago Wind below:


This text will be replaced

Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra Performs "Tears I Cried When Love Has Died" Live.

Black Dynamite - Posters

Black Dynamite - Trailer

Check out the official site at www.blackdynamite.com

vinyl4giants posted the mp3 "Shot Me In The Heart" which you can listen to below or download.

Adrian "AJ" Younge - "Shot Me In The Heart" (Black Dynamite OST)

 

Via: vinyl4giants - Twitter


Black Dynamite [Soundtrack]

vinyl4giants has a quick interview with composer of the Black Dynamite OST Adrian "AJ" Younge. The film directed by Scott Sanders and starring Michael Jai White is a homage to classic 70's Blaxploitation flicks and needed a homage soundtrack to suit. Those familiar to the genre will know that it's one where the music is hugely integral. Often the soundtracks were works of a far higher calibre than the films themselves. Legends of funk and soul contributed to and created albums, some of which are amongst the greatest recorded works of all time. You just have to listen to Curtis Mayfield's sublime Superfly OST once and you'll see what I mean. Isaac Hayes, Bobby Womack and the Godfather Himself James Brown were all to create sonic backdrops for these black action flicks. Brown even made an album for a film that didn't exist, The Payback (Rejected by Larry Cohen as the soundtrack to Hell Up in Harlem), Brown himself felt his Black Caesar OST was sub-par.

Understanding homage is not the same as copy, Adrian "AJ" Younge has taken inspiration and developed the score he would have made had he been working at the time.

You can buy the Black Dynamite OST using the amazon links below this post or from waxpoetics.com (comes with bonus track  Tears I Cry).

Black Dynamite - Posters

Black Dynamite - Trailer

Check out the official site at www.blackdynamite.com

vinyl4giants posted the mp3 "Shot Me In The Heart" which you can listen to below or download.

Via: vinyl4giants


Can You Dig It? Music & Politics of Black Action Films: 1968-1975

In the early 1970s, Black Action Films exploded into the cinema with three extremely successful films – Shaft, Super Fly and Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song. The most profound statement of these films was their actual existence – black actors and black directors entering the previously closed Hollywood film industry.

'Can You Dig It?' charts the rise of 'Black Action Films' from 1970-75. As well as featuring a double-CD collection of the stunning music from these films, 'Can You Dig It?' comes with a 100-page booklet, limited-edition mini-film poster cards and stickers. The vinyl is on two monster loud separate double albums.

If your a fan of funk music and the blaxploitation genre, theres a good chance you own the majority if not all of the music featured in this collection. However with the buzz around Scott Sanders's homage movie Black Dynamite (Trailer). There should bea rise in interest in the genre and the music which makes up such a fundamental element of it. 'Can You Dig It?' would certainly put some essential music into your collection.

www.souljazzrecords.co.uk

Via: amazon.co.uk


Black Dynamite

Good news for those in the UK looking forward to seeing Scott Sanders' blaxploitation homage Black Dynamite. The film has been picked up by Icon Film Distribution.

Screen Daily also reports The film which stars martial artist Michael Jai White will get its first market screening at Cannes and is also scheduled to screen in the Spotlight programme at Tribeca. *Sony Pictures have already purchased the North American rights after its screening at Sundance.

Black Dynamite - Posters

Black Dynamite - Trailer

Check out the official site at www.blackdynamite.com

*and promptly ordered we take down the trailer, if you jump over to Cinemablend however you can see a clip being used for Tribeca promotion.

Via: Screen Daily - News


Five: Stand Out Pieces Of Violent Urban Cinema

"Urban" cinema tends to mean black cinema or cinema reflecting a "Ghetto" experience often from a youthful perspective. So I will that as a rough guide and then narrowing it down to crime related and violent features I'm going to look at some of the best from this "Genre", if it can really be called a genre.

La_Haine_Special_Edition1. La Haine (1995) Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz

La Haine is arguably the best "Urban" film ever made, certainly the most politically charged and the one with the most impacting ending. French Jewish director Mathieu Kassovitz may have gone on to make the crappy Gothica, but in 1995 he made the best film of the year. So the top film on my list is not American as you would expect, but French. In fact as far as I am aware, a decade after its release the film which took won best director and was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes is still not available in the US. This is the film that made the French police guarding Cannes turn their backs to the cast and crew as they passed. The film follows 3 friends Vinz, Hubert, Saïd as the pass the day in the aftermath of riots the night before. Kassovitz shot the film in colour, but then printed it to B&W because he wanted the film to be taken as more than just another "Ghetto" or "Hip Hop" film. While the French ghetto is very apparent in the film and scenes of break dancing and an iconic DJ scene mean the film drips hip hop culture in places his film is indeed much more. All the performances are dead on, with the three leads Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde and Saïd Taghmaoui all first class. One of the best and maybe the most powerful films of the 1990's. Fans of Urban film, World Cinema, modern B&W cinema and just great movie making in general have no excuse for not owning or at the very least having seen La Haine.

Fresh2. Fresh (1994) Directed by Boaz Yakin

Yet another Jewish director takes on bringing a Ghetto set story to the screen. And why not, after all the word was spawned from a Jewish experience. Fresh is set in a mixed Hispanic and Black area of New York and follows the story of a young boy known as Fresh. Fresh is a classic case of a mind gone to waste, in a different setting he would be following a life that would lead to higher education and a successful career. Fresh how ever is not in a different pace he lives in the inner city hood and is a runner for drug gangs. Running heroin for slimy Hispanic drug lord Esteban and Crack for paranoid black gangster Corky, Fresh is in deep and having to live a life way beyond anything someone his young years should experience. Everyone keeps telling Fresh he's going to be the man one day, but it’s not what he wants. Fresh is torn between the streets and a home crowded home life at his aunt's. Fresh's father portrayed by a still relatively unknown Sam Jackson is a Chess master and a drunk who fresh makes regular visits in the park to play against. The films plot see' the combining chess concepts into a tale reminiscent of Yojimbo. The expected Hip Hop score is absent, in its place is a score by Stuart Copeland similar to that he provided for Rumble fish. Cinematographer Adam Holender was called in and Yakin persuaded him to use the old school feel he used on the Oscar winning midnight Cowboy some 25 years earlier. Great performances, especially from young Sean Nelson as Fresh, but all the cast are strong. Fresh's life may change but the cost will be high. Fresh won Boaz Yakin the Filmmakers Trophy and was nominated for Grand Jury Prize as well as earning Sean Nelson Special Jury Recognition for technical acting.

City_of_god3. City of God (2002) Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund

Carrying the tagline Fight and you'll never survive..... Run and you'll never escape Brazilian film City of God blew away just about everyone who saw it in 2002. Stylish and backed by a funky soundtrack City of God was an exceedingly hip piece of cinema. Behind the cool, is really a very tragic look at modern Brazil and the utter desperation that faces those living out there lives in the roughest parts of Rio de Janeiro's favela's. In city of God life is not just cheap; it's to be thrown away like rubbish. The directors succeed in bringing a multi character movie to the screen where many would fail. Although it revolves around, but does not centre on, Rocket a young man with a love for photography growing up in one of the most violent places on earth. How ever the film weaves in friends, acquaintances and other locals who do not always directly affect Rocket himself. In many ways he is more observer than participant in much of the film. Rocket is around, but not involved in the madness that surrounds him. City of god is also notable for giving us one of modern films most chilling characters in Li'l Ze whose childhood murder spree is made even more shocking by the fact that there are people like him out there. Like Fresh, City of God does not shy away from child death, but is more shocking in that here the killers are often not long out of dypers themselves. Everyone should have seen this by now, but if not it's another must.

Menace_II_Society4. Menace II Society (1993) Directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes

OK so the common theme of a young man who wants to get out is in place, but if you lived somewhere that violent would you not want out. Two years after John Singleton's critically praised seminal film Boyz n the Hood the Hughes brother’s unleashed Menace II Society. Menace was highly quotable, cool and violent. For many people who had grown to be first fans of Hip Hop and then of the gangster rap subgenre menace was the celluloid version of a Compton’s most wanted or N.W.A album. Mc Eiht of CMW even has a strong supporting role as OG A- WAX. The great thing about this film is it works both on the level of great pop culture fun and as a series look at life in the gang infested area's of LA. The way the neighborhood in which your are born in seriously lessons the chances you have in life. Even those characters who want out find themselves just as caught up as those who accept the desperate nihilism of life in the area. The never ending tit for tat killing, the senselessness of fighting wars from which there is nothing to gain. Larenz Tate as Kevin 'O-Dog' who really just does not give a f**k is awesome ... anybody want a cheeseburger?

Juice5. Juice (1992) Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson

Black genre director Ernest R. Dickerson's impressive New York based feature is often criminally overlooked when it comes to discussing Urban cinema. Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur both give blistering performances as the lives of four close friends take a downward turn. As with La Haine one of the pivotal moments is the gaining of a gun by one of the leads, guns equal power and with power you can gain "The Juice". Tupac may not have been your favorite music performer or personality, but here his acting skills as the dark brooding Bishop are beyond reproach. Bishop is a genuinely scary character, the kind of psycho friend you know is bad news but you just can't escape. Backed by an appropriate Hip Hop (real hip hop not MTV rap) score including the legendary emcee Rakim's "know the ledge" Juice is more firmly embedded in hip hop culture than the other films on the list. That’s not to say it's a rap movie just that it appropriately reflects the New York scene in the early nineties. Omar Epps drips charisma as upcoming DJ Q and the supporting cast is strong. The look on his face as he walks away from the rooftop at the end of the film and a member of the crowd tells him he has the Juice say's it all.

Not included: I've left off Blaxploitation films from the films I considered as they are a different thing entirely. I also discounted films that are essentially organised crime flicks like New Jack City and king of New York and Police flicks like Colors. Prison films are also ignored such as Bound by Honor. Urban, black and ethnic cinema covers a lot more than just "Growing up in the hood", but for the purposes of this five violent hood stories was an appropriate theme and just because that is the focus it does not make the films any less powerful.

Also see: Boyz in the hood, Spike Lee's work in particular Do the right thing, Colours, Jason's Lyric, Animal, Dead Presidents, Bound by Honor (Blood in, Blood out), American Me.

Trivia: Samuel L. Jackson appears in all 3 of the American movies in my 5.

Buy the films:

La Haine: (UK Ultimate edition) As the film has no North American release the best bet for those of you out there with region free players order a UK version via hkflix.com

Fresh: No UK (region 2) DVD for this one so amazon.com

City of God: amazon.com | amzon.co.uk

Menace II Society: amazon.com | amazon.co.uk

Juice: Again no UK (region 2) option so amazon.com

... more Late - Fives


Penitentiary

Jamaa Fanaka’s raw and violent indictment of prison life is a masterpiece of Urban Cinema and was the most successful independent film of 1980. A potent combination of "blaxploitation", prison film and social commentary, Penitentiary busted genres and galvanised audiences from the art houses to the inner city, becoming the cornerstone of urban independent film for generations to come.

Martel Gordone ( Leon Isaac Kennedy) is a Hitchhiker who gets into a fight with a  pair of bikers over a prostitute. One of the biker dies and Martel finds himself in prison with the moniker ‘ too sweet’ because of his love of candy bars. Soon, he is a hardened but pragmatic inmate who joins the prison boxing team in an effort to secure an early parole. Standing in his path however is ‘Half Dead Johnson’, a member of the prison’s most violent gang.

www.arrowfilms.co.uk


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Here's a sideshow gallery of poster artwork from director Scott Sanders movie Black Dynamite. The film stars African American martial artist Michael Jai White who woud have been a huge star if the Spawn movie had not been so lame. The movie is a loving ode to the classic blaxploitation movies of the 1970's. 

While the movie itself and the artwork pull on many of the films of the genre, you can clearly see the influence of some of the best known ones in the posters. Namely the Gordon Parks Jr. directed, Curtis Mayfield scored Super Fly which starred Ron O'Neal. Gordon Parks snr (yes the father) 1971 classic and probably the genres best known film Shaft. Haft of course was scored by the legendary Isaac Hayes and starred probably the genres biggest star Richard Roundtree. And then of course there's the influence of Black Belt Jones, which starred Afro sporting martial arts legend Jim Kelly, a man probably most famous for co-starring the year before with Bruce Lee in the mighty Enter The Dragon.

Black Dynamite - Trailer

Check out the official site at www.blackdynamite.com


Trailer for director Scott Sanders movie Black Dynamite, which stars Michael Jai White.

When "The Man" murders his brother, pumps heroin into local orphanages, and floods the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor, Black Dynamite is the one hero willing to fight.

With the recent passing of Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite) other of the genres legends is gone, so its great to hear the voice over on the trailer. Black Dynamite just played at Sundance and the reviews have generally come back pretty positive, so I'm looking forward to seeing this one.

Black Dynamite - Posters

www.blackdynamite.com

 


Blaxploitation Pride

"An era of its own. A time when American was in a transition from separatism to civil rights. The 70's was a Golden Age on so many levels and the influence echoes around the world in present day. Blaxploitation is considered in my opinion to be the coolest of cool. Touching on the most sensitive material in America at its time and exploiting them on the big screen or the vinyls in your record player produced for a glorified genre that nobody will ever be able to duplicate."

Fans of "cult film" and / or funk music should really check this blog out as it's a brilliant resource.

www.blaxploitationpride.org


Dolemite

Rudy Ray Moore sadly passed away the other day at the age of 81, best known for his filthy rhyming banter and of course the character Dolemite.

He guessed on legendary old school rapper Big Daddy Kane's (A contender for G.O.A.T.) album Taste of Chocolate LP way back in 1990 at the age 63. The track called Big Daddy vs. Dolemite see's the old master steal the show.

Check it out below, but keep in mind 'ol Rudy really did have a potty mouth.

www.dolemite.com


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