Blaxploitation films appeared in the early '70s, in the wake of Melvin Van Peebles' groundbreaking independent film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Van Peebles' angry masterpiece was a serious, even dangerous work that established that raw, independent African-American films would find audiences. It also happened to have a funk soundtrack -- appropriate, since funk was the cutting-edge music of the time. As it would turn out, Sweet Sweetback ushered in an era of filmmaking that wasn't nearly as serious as Van Peebles' movie. Quite quickly, his innovations were diluted and channeled into a genre called blaxploitation. Where Sweet Sweetback was serious as a heart attack, blaxploitation -- with a few exceptions -- was lightweight, telling tales of detectives, outlaws, pimps, and hustlers. It played to a broad audience, and it found it. And those films were given funk soundtracks, similar to Sweet Sweetback -- filled with wah-wah guitars, big bass, and funky beats -- but the newer soundtracks were richer and more diverse. Much of this music held up better than the films themselves, even in the case of Superfly, one of the better blaxploitation films of the time, where Curtis Mayfield's music was better than the film. As the movie genre died out in the late '70s, so did the music, but both the films and the soundtracks remained cult favorites well into the next century.