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After Seeing Marvel’s “Black Panther”, Watch Mario Van Pebbles’ “Panther”

May 5, 2018
Norman "Otis" Richmond (aka Jalali)


Mario Van Peebles, director of the 1995 film "Panther", a movie on the early history of Oakland-based Black Panther Party of Self-Defense

 

"Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you've got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours.

“And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight.” - El Hajj Malik El Shabazz aka Omowale Malcolm X

The film “Black Panther” is raking in record-breaking revenue for Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and has African people from Cape Town, South Africa to Nova Scotia debating its merits and demerits.

The 2018 film made me reflect on a 1995 movie directed by Mario Van Peebles. 

“Panther” is from a screenplay adapted by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, from his novel of the same name.

The film’s budget was a mere $9 million. The “Black  Panther” film produced by Marvel and distributed by Disney, according Wikipedia was worth about $200,000 million.

The younger Van Peebles’ 1991 film “New Jack City,” which featured Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Chris Rock and others made $47,624,253 in the United States.

Despite these numbers, Hollywood wanted “Panther” to star Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt as white student radicals leading Africans in Oakland and even suggested Bridget Fonda could be put on the silver screen leading the Black Revolution.

Panther  shows the U.S. government in alliance with the mafia  

“Panther” shows the U.S. government in alliance with the Mafia planning to flood the African community with drugs.

The African People’s Socialist Party has maintained that the White House is the Rock House for years. History has proved this happened.

The film is a snippet of the early history of the Oakland Chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

The film is notable for its strong cast, including Africans born in America such as Dick Gregory, Angela Bassett, Kadeem Hardison, Bobby Brown, and Chris Rock, who later became prominent in film and television.

Let the record reflect that original Black Panther Party’s origins were in neither Oakland nor Harlem, but in Lowndes County, Alabama.  

Bama’s not city slickers started the ball to rolling toward African liberation. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale wrote to Alabama and asked permission to use the Black Panther symbol and name.

Muhammad Ahmad aka Maxwell Curtis Stanford Jr. composed a similar letter from Harlem. Mississippi-born Fannie Lou Hamer, Kwame Ture aka Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks were among the founders of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization.

Besides being a great film, it also had an even greater soundtrack. The producers of the soundtrack took the hits from the period and updated them.

Two classics examples are Joe’s updated rendition of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band’s “Express Yourself” and Monica and Usher’s cleaned up take on Latimore’s raunchy “Let's Straighten it Out.” Monica was 14 and Usher was a mere 16 at this moment in history.

White power colonialism and male domination were and are major contradictions 

White power colonialism and male domination were and are major contradictions confronting our movement.

The League of Revolutionary Black Workers central staff was completely male. however the Black  Panther Party created by Newton and Seale had a woman Chair Elaine Brown. This is reflected on the soundtrack.

One of the strongest if not the strongest track on the album is “Freedom (Theme from Panther).”

The song features Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, Brownstone, N’Dea Davenport, E.V.E., Emage, En Vogue, Eshe & Laurneá (of Arrested Development), Penny Ford, Danny Hathaway’s daughter, Lalah Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Meshell Ndegeocello, Pebbles, one time Torontonian Brenda Russell,  SWV, Tracie Spencer, TLC, Crystal Waters, Caron Wheeler, Karyn White, Vanessa Williams, and others. 

It also features a (Dirty Dozen remix) of "Freedom" which features Jamaica’s own Patra, MC Lyte, Meshell Ndegeocello, Nefertiti, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Left Eye of TLC, Da 5 Footaz, and Yo-Yo.

Hip-Hop artists are also represented on the soundtrack. Da Lench Mob featuring a sample from Chairman Bobby Seale recreates Long Beach’s own War with "The World Is a Ghetto.” The group consisted of Ice Cube, Shorty, T-Bone, J-Dee and Maulkie.

Old school was represented with "Don't Give Me No Broccoli and Tell Me It's Green’s” from The Last Poets. They also are from the East Coast which at that moment in history the U.S. ruling circle was fomenting conflicts with the Left Coast.

The West Coast was represented by many groups. Oakland’s own Tony! Toni! Toné! re-did “Sly” and the Family Stone’s “Stand!”

“The Points” is a 1995 single and video released from the “Panther” soundtrack featuring 12 popular rap acts of the time.

The all-star recording had three different versions produced; the Easy Mo Bee version appeared on the soundtrack, while the other versions produced by DJ U-Neek and Mista Lawnge of Blacksheep  appeared on the single release.

The soundtrack was a hit and became a gold record

The soundtrack was a hit and became a gold record. According to Wikipedia: “A soundtrack for the film containing R&B and hip hop music was released on May 2, 1995 by Mercury Records.

“It peaked at number 37 on the Billboard 200 and number five on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was certified gold on July 25, 1995.

Featured on the soundtrack was the single “Freedom (Theme from Panther),” a collaboration among more than 60 female R&B singers and rappers that peaked at 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.”

Paul Robeson spoke about the role of cultural workers on the struggle for world African liberation. Said Robeson, “The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery.”

 

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