Sampling Blaxploitation: Hip-Hop, The ‘Browns’, and Tarantino

belated, baby

The blaxploitation films of the 1970s comprise a controversial subgenre of racial stereotypes, uniquely rich and soulful soundtracks, and newfound black power. These films and the music that accompanied them faced the “problems and pleasures of contemporary black life”, often with lead characters that offered “fantasies of individual empowerment through violence, crime, and the performance of individual style”, as put by Amanda Howell.

While blaxploitation filmmakers’ formulaic approach to moviemaking caused the genre to fizzle out after several years, the 1990s saw a rebirth in its popularity. As hip-hop evolved, producers and emcees suddenly found comfort in a strong thematic tie to these 70s films, which they expressed in a number of ways. Interestingly, their approach to referencing blaxploitation history can be compared to director Quentin Tarantino’s own appropriation of blaxploitation themes in his creation of 1997’s Jackie Brown.

Blaxploitation as Hip-Hop

An immediate connection between the growing popularity…

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