Soopa Starr’s Blaxploitation Friday – “Shaft”

blame it on Meka August 1, 2008

If you’re feeling this like I am, be sure to check out Gangstarr Girl for a fresh take on hip-hop, politics and other worldly and wordy things through the eyes of a New York-helmed around-the-way-girl. WIthout further adeiu…

Today’s flick is Shaft. I fucked around and posted it hastily about two weeks ago because it was the 10th post, so I wanted it to be dope (therefore rushing by posting this one) but I left out an important tidbit. Don’t fret, it’s coming. I’ll make things right for unlucky number 13.


Starring: Richard Roundtree

Synopsis: John Shaft is the baddest, most debonair Black detective in Harlem but that comes with price. He first finds himself up against the Black mob, then Black nationals–but those forces eventually unite when they team up to bring down the White mafia who are trying to Blackmail Bumpy (who is very loosely based on Harlem’s real life Bumpy Johnson), leader of the Black mob, by kidnapping his daughter.


Facts: Shaft was directed by Gordon Parks, renowned African-American photographer, composer, author and director. He was the first African-American to make a studio film in 1969 with The Learning Tree.

Shaft’s character was originally written for a white man but replaced with Richard Roundtree on the heels of the success of Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweetback… (which is considered by several people, an avante garde movie that set off the popularity of the genre). The new, melanin enhanced Shaft was the embodiment of the Black Revolutionaries popular in the U.S. at the time.

The original film spawned three remakes, Shaft’s Big Score (1972), Shaft in Africa(1973), and Shaft again (2000), directed by John Singleton, who was admittedly influenced by the flick and other blaxploitation joints.

Music: Unless you grew up in the cave that currently houses Osama B, then you must have heard the theme song at some point in your life. “Shaft” is the lead single from the film, which was entirely scored by Isaac Hayes. Not only was this the first film he ever scored, but he became the first African American to receive an Oscar for Best Musical Score, and he also won a Golden Globe, two Grammys, an NAACP Image Award, and an Edison Award (Europe’s highest award for music).

DOWNLOAD: Isaac Hayes – Theme From “Shaft”

What I missed: Shortly after I posted Shaft, I ended up watching a marathon on TVOne. They showed every Shaft movie back to back, and as I was listening to the theme song that played throughout Shaft in Africa, I thought it sounded familiar. Listen for yourself. I’m not going to give any hints but you should be ashamed of your self if you’re a hip-hop head and don’t recognize the sample. This one is easy.

DOWNLOAD: Johnny Pate – Shaft In Africa