Adrian Younge - "Black Dynamite Theme" (Black Dynamite)
Considering how hard it can be to parody something that’s largely composed of self-mockery, Black Dynamite, a broad ”blaxploitation” spoof released in late ’09, packs a lotta laffs. Our hero uncovers a plot to shrink the dicks of America’s black men and finds himself in an epic nunchucks battle with Richard M. Nixon himself. It’s not the perfect comedy, but it’s good times.
Of greater possible interest to the film nerds among us: Black Dynamite is damn near perfect in its painstaking verisimilitude. It replicates the genre’s quirks beautifully. Wooden actors fuck up their lines; boom mikes hover over their heads; totally sick fight scenes are broken up by hilariously awful editing. It takes wild skill to make this sort of “bad” movie on purpose. And it took mad discipline for Adrian Younge, who also edited the film itself, to build its soundtrack.
For his Black Dynamite score, Younge, at every opportunity, took the long way around. He studied the composition and instrumentation of ‘70’s cinematic soul, down to the outdated tape machines, instruments and mics it used. He eschewed the ease of digital production (the only reason half-assed bullshit like Owl City exists, BTW) and stuck with linear, analog editing. The results are not just a carefully crafted tribute to their source material; they accomplish the same sort of soulful thrill ride.
Granted: It’s still an album inseparably associated with a parody. Much more than on the original blaxploitation soundtracks, the lyrics on Black Dynamite are painstakingly topical. The songs, particularly those sung by the bombastic LaVan Davis, essentially narrate the film, down to details that, if you haven’t seen it, won’t make no kind of sense. But, like any good blaxploitation flick, Black Dynamite cannot stay on topic, which facilitates a tart romantic kiss-off and a world-class sex jam, sung by Donnie Gipson and Toni Scruggs, respectively. Predictably, the most enduring, mix-worthy cuts are those most self-contained.
At 35 minutes, Younge’s soundtrack ended well before I wanted it to. For the withdrawal, there’s the music-track CD, a collection of mondo-“vintage” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_music>”library music” created by some of that Astroturf genre’s most admired practitioners, with the vocals of Sir Charles Hughes occasionally overdubbed. This cop-show funk disc draws most heavily on the work of composer Alan Tew, but it’s arguable highlight comes from elsewhere: Brian Bennett and Alan Hackshaw’s snaky “Name of the Game.”
Younge’s music is so exactingly retro that it’s a seamless two-fer.