When the movie “Superfly” was released in 1972, no one could have predicted the massive and unbridled effect it would have on the genre of hip-hop.
The plot of the movie is centered around a black character, who happens to be a drug dealer. In the movie, he is trying to get on the straight and narrow by quitting the drug trade game. After the release of the movie, came the new age of hip-hop.
The genre became populated with tracks depicting drug use and an insane amount of violence. All major qualities of the movie Superfly.
A major way through which Superfly came to influence hip-hop so much was through its soundtrack. Curtis Mayfield’s funk classic “Pusherman” served as the theme song for the movie. Since its release, it has been sampled over 25 times by different rap artists, each one putting a different twist on it.
Some of the more popular tracks include
I’m Shady by Eminem
I’m Your Pusher by Ice-T
Push a Man by Chance the Rapper feat. Nate Fox and Lili K
I’m That N**ga by B.o.B feat T.I.
The classic “Pusherman” track resonates with majority of the black community, which makes up a large percentage of hip-hop today. The song is a key representation of what the major character in the movie, Priest Youngblood, is going through. The struggles of trying to quit a life of drugs, gang violence and other illegalities.
Other qualities that made the movie have such a widespread impact on hip-hop include the fashion and style portrayed therein. Also, factoring into a very large extent was the “no holds barred” approach the movie had i.e nothing was sugar coated or watered down for public consumption. This then resulted in transforming Superfly into a real ghetto and street life classic.
Another major factor the movie had was, it wasn’t commonplace. No one was really making such movies, blaxploitation was a genre of film that wasn’t really popular up until then. Blaxploitation came into the limelight in the early 70’s and “Superfly” played a major role in opening the genre up to the general public. Hip-hop largely benefitted and is still benefiting from the movie. It is a gift that just keeps giving.
Hopefully, the 2018 remake will scale the same heights the original did, and further push the hip-hop genre forward.