Articles: Why the Original “Superfly” is Still Fly




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By Khaleel Herbert

With the release of Director X’s new flick, “Superfly,” it’s set to speak to a new generation. But what most of these youngsters may not know is this “Superfly” is a remake of the 1972 flick of the same name starring Ron O’Neal, Carl Lee and Shelia Frazier.

The story is set in New York with Priest (O’Neal) who’s one of the baddest drug-dealers on the block. He’s one of those guys you don’t want to steal money from because he’ll chase you across town to get it back. With his partner, Eddie (Carl Lee), Priest hopes to sell 30 kilos of cocaine to make a million dollars and leave the drug game for life. But when some crooked cops want in on the deal, Priest must use all of his brawn and brains to execute his escape.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Director X’s version is sleek, especially since he’s directed music videos for Usher, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Ludacris, Drake and more. But he’s got nothing on the classic. First, “Superfly” was part of the Blaxploitation films of the ‘70s. Along with other classics like “Shaft,” “Blacula,” “Foxy Brown,” “The Mack” and more, “Superfly” was one of the first films to portray African-Americans as protagonists, not victims of brutality or sidekicks to White protagonists. Although these films got much backlash for their stereotypical portrayals, they were still popular.

Next, Curtis Mayfield made an epic soundtrack for the film. Rolling Stone ranked the soundtrack #72 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, describing it as “astonishing, marrying lush string parts to deep bass grooves with lots of wah-wah guitar.” The album included the hits, “Pusherman,” “Freddie’s Dead,” Give Me Your Love,” and “Junkie Chase.” Similar to Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack to “Shaft,” Rolling Stone said “Superfly’s” soundtrack “packed more drama than the movie.” If you ask me, I’ll take the smooth voice of Mayfield over Future’s auto-tune-heavy mumble-rap any day.

Lastly, Eddie has one of the most epic monologues in the whole film. “You know you got this fantasy in your head about getting out of the life and setting that other world on its ear. What the f—k you gonna do except hustle? Besides pimping? You really ain’t got the stomach for that.” Jay-Z used part of this monologue on the first track of his album, “Kingdom Come.”

The majority of the new generation may not give a spit about the original “Superfly.” They’ll be too engrossed by the music video-esque style of Director X and Future’s mushmouth lyrics. But for those who appreciate the classics and were even alive during that time, will understand and accept that O’Neal’s version is still fly in 2018.

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