“The Weird World of Blowfly”: Raunchy rap legend Clarence Reid was the original gangsta

By on October 4, 2017

Now streaming on Night Flight Plus is the slightly NSFW The Weird World of Blowfly, which tells the saga of Clarence Reid, who wrote and produced a handful of memorable Southern Soul and R&B hits before his regressive early ’70s transformation into his sex-crazed, scatological X-rated rappin’ alter-ego, Blowfly.

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We’ve previously paid homage to the original gangsta Clarence Reid after he died — on January 17, 2016, from liver cancer, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida — and we encourage you to check out Mark Deming’s post, which details Reid’s story from an honest first-person perspective, with lots of addedommentary from his long-suffering manager/drummer Tom Bowker.

As a songwriter in the 1960s and ’70s, Reid had written and produced a number of soul/R&B classics, including Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman,” Gwen McRae’s “Rocking Chair,” KC & The Sunshine Band’s first hit, “Sound Your Funky Horn” (their first gig was at Reid’s own wedding), Sam & Dave and Bobby Byrd, to name just a few; he even penned an R&B hit of his own, 1969’s “Nobody But You.”

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Reid is likely better known, though, as one of the kings of the original “party record” scene, beloved — and probably hated too — for his crude, lewd, and rude X-rated raps, including what may be one of the first rap songs, 1965’s “Rap Dirty.”

Here’s a sample of Blowfly at his filthy best/worst:

This is Blowfly, the Master Class/My dick is too big to fuck a human’s ass/I fuck animals, like I did in the past/I’m the scumbug fucker of the human race/I fucked Predator, bust my nuts in his face…”

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Read more about Clarence Reid and The Weird World of Blowfly below.

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After graduating college in 1993, director Jonathan Furmanski worked as the director of photography on numerous independent films, episodic TV shows, commercials, music videos and music-related documentaries — including loudQUIETloud: a film about The Pixies — before directing his first feature-length doc The Weird World of Blowfly, shot over the course of two years and released in 2010.

Furmanski had purchased his first Blowfly record when he was a teenager. In the early 2000s, he found out Reid was still recording and touring, and decided to follow him around on tour in order to make sure that audiences knew the overlooked living legend was still out there performing, bum knee, bad attitude and all.

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In the 1940s and ’50s, working in the cotton fields of Georgia, Reid liked to sing deliciously degenerate parodies of popular hits of the day.

When his grandma heard him singing one day, she ended up bestowing on Reid the stage name he would use for the next fifty-plus years, loudly declaring: “You’re a disgrace to the human race, and no better than a blowfly!”

Reid continued doing raunch-rap parodies of Top 40 tunes — don’t miss the footage of Reid and Isaac Hayes performing “Shitting Off the Dock of the Bay” — which ultimately led to him recording his original raps, for more than a decade, with Henry Stone’s Florida-based TK Records.

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Those recordings were sometimes sold under the table during the first part of his career because he feared prosecution on obscenity charges.

We learn here in this critically-acclaimed, intimate and revealing portrait of Blowfly’s career how Reid was forced to sell his publishing rights in 2003, losing millions of dollars in royalties (from sampling and commercials) in the process.

That’s one reason why Reid — looking tired and acting crabby in his flamboyant cape-and-cowled gold-spangled superhero costume — spends much of his time on camera complaining about his lifelong struggle for financial success, living from paycheck and grinding it out on tour when he should be enjoying his retirement down in South Florida.

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Watching The Weird World of Blowfly, which was also the title of his 1971 sexually-explicit debut as Blowfly, you’ll learn — despite his outrageous reputation for spewing obscene raps, not to mention shocking onstage antics and profane stage patter — that the God-fearing Reid was actually a deeply religious man who’d sworn off smoking, doing drugs and drinking alcohol.

We also learn here about Reid’s desire to be recognized as one of the progenitors of rap music — he tells us that he invented hip-hop — and how this original gangsta became a huge influence on several generations of dirty rappers who followed in his footsteps, bragging about their own sexual prowess (Reid says he was rarely promiscuous despite his sexually rapacious image).

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In the film, Chuck D tells us that Blowfly’s 1980 recording “Blowfly’s Rapp” (aka “Rap Dirty”) inspired his group Public Enemy’s anthemic 1989 hit “Fight the Power” (specifically the verse where he calls Elvis Presley and John Wayne racists).

“Blowfly had a record called “Blowfly’s Rapp” in 1980,” Chuck D remembers, “and there was a line in there where one of the characters in the song was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and basically he had a lyric, ‘Well, I don’t care who you are / motherfuck you and Muhammad Ali.'”

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Reid also influenced rapper Ice-T (who also appears here) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea too, who appeared on Reid’s “Shake Your Ass” in 1991 and his riotous “Funky Party” video two years later.

In the early 2000s, Reid signed with Jello Biafra’s label Alternative Tentacles, releasing his album Fahrenheit 69.

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The Weird World of Blowfly takes a look at all of Reid’s personal and professional contradictions, following Blowfly and his band on a European tour in their sometimes sadly-executed attempt to introduce Blowfly to a new, younger crowd in mostly half-empty clubs, but you’ll also see him opening for the popular German punk band Die Ärzte, big Blowfly fans, who also appear in the film.

Watch The Weird World of Blowfly, and other weirdo documentaries over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.