Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Screenwriter: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Melvin Van Peebles, Hubert Scales, Simon Chuckster, John Amos
Over 19 days in 1971, Melvin Van Peebles directed, produced and starred in Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, the indie film he also scored (played by Earth, Wind & Fire) and wrote. The year before, Van Peebles had made Watermelon Man for Columbia, a comedy about a white bigot who wakes up black. For his follow-up, Van Peebles wanted to make something even more antagonistic, a rough tale about a bad motherfucker bucking white authority. Columbia was gutless; Van Peebles would have to go it alone.
Melvin Van Peebles made his movie about his bad motherfucker, Sweet Sweetback, he of the long dick and no fucks given, and thank god he did. For the samples alone, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song is worth its weight in vinyl (in particular Madlib has sought out choice moments of the dialogue for many of his projects). Beyond rap, Song is largely credited with starting the Blaxploitation genre. It inspired scores of black filmmakers, including Spike Lee. —RS