Not many recording artists have a secret identity. Prince changed his name to a symbol for a while, but when he stepped onstage, you still knew it was him.
It's a whole different story for Miami-based soul-funk singer Clarence Reid, who has released a dozen albums and composed songs for the likes of Sam and Dave and K.C. and the Sunshine Band. When he puts on his gold-lamé cape, glittery mask and tights, Reid transforms into his alter ego: the raunchy rapper Blowfly, a blaxploitation legend as powerful as Shaft and Dolemite, yet still in search of a movie role.
If you thought Blowfly was some recent development playing off the popularity of Kool Keith, 2 Live Crew or Wesley Willis, think again -- hard. Blowfly has been around since the 1960s, and owns a serious claim to being not only the inventor of rap (though he credits Southern "soul talking" black radio DJs for his influence) but perhaps even a co-founder of punk rock. He pressed his own DIY records and took lyrics to the prurient edge with early gems like "Porno Freak," which got an Alabama record store busted long before Tipper Gore's PMRC and parental-advisory stickers.
In 1988, he recorded the classic Blowfly for President (for a label called Pandisc that sadly has "shafted" him for royalties). Three years later, he cut a single with Fishbone and bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But his career stalled until Florida music writer Tom Bowker joined him in 2004, forming a backup band to take Blowfly on the road and re-launch his fame.
The result was the album Fahrenheit 69, on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label. The cover art is a knock-off of the Bad Brains' debut, with Blowfly's X-rated lightning bolt striking the Capitol building -- thus supercharging his nemesis, who on one track is identified, with characteristic restraint, as "Cuntaleeza Rice." The CD features guest spots by Atmosphere's Slug, sexy electroclashers Gravy Train!!!!, and even flash-in-the-pan Afroman ("Because I Got High").
While the latest Blowfly release, Punk Rock Party, is a nod to Jello's oeuvre, Afroman has joined Mr. Reid as veep candidate in a renewed run for the highest office in the land. With tracks like the R. Kelly rip-off "I Believe My Dick Can Fly," his mojo-workin' could outdo the exploits of Slick Willie with one hand tied behind his back. So watch out, Hillary and Barack, or you'll be left in the dust of the Booty Bus.
Blowfly with Blueprint (of Soul Position), BZE the Cuban Cruise Missile, The New Alcindors, and DJs J Malls and Omar Abdul. 8:30 p.m. Tue., June 12. 31st Street Pub, 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $10. 412-391-8334 or www.31stpub.com
- Vote for change: Vote Blowfly