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Soul Brotha

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"Who is the man that'll risk his neck for his brother man? Shaft! Right on."
Isaac Hayes, "Theme from Shaft"

All right! You've gotten your Ensemble Cast but something's missing. Something... funky. A character to provide kickass quotes to be tossed around the Internet. Apparently Samuel L. Jackson is interested in the project. Yes.

Enter Soul Brotha. This man is a badass. He is pure coolness. He speaks in a slang at once incomprehensible and utterly groovy, and he sho can groove. He usually is calm and laid back but he is nothing to play with; he doesn't tolerate disrespect and he never backs down from a fight, he can defend himself pretty well whether he has to defend himself physically or with weapons, most of the time he comes out the one winning the fight. If he dies (and he probably will) it will be in the coolest way imaginable. He may or may not have an afro, but he will certainly be Black. You can also expect this character to be The Casanova. It's rare the creators make this character faithful to one woman. Expect him to ask where all the white women are.

Most of the time this character is not the protagonist. He is usually the The Lancer and if not, you can expect him to be in part of a duo with a white guy who is not as nearly as cool as him. Sometimes this character is just a Token Black Friend to the protagonist, or a cool guy version of Uncle Tomfoolery. If he is the protagonist it's usually in a film or series which the cast is mostly black. These characters were most popular in The '70s, during the height of Blaxploitation. This character would also usually be American, or occasionally Jamaican.

According to this trope, Black men are somehow inherently cooler than their non Black neighbors. Part of this is the fact that most American music genres developed in the 20th Century has roots in the African-American community: Jazz, Blues, Soul, Hip-Hop, Funk, Rock & Roll, and yes, even Country Music. Additionally, Black Americans have often introduced new forms of popular slang and fashion into the mainstream, and have historically acted as 'cultural innovators'. The same phenomenon can be seen in other countries like the United Kingdom, where a lot of slang and fashion finds its roots in Black British culture. In the Caribbean, Ska, Reggae, Dancehall, and Rocksteady originated from Afro-Jamaicans and have spread a similar image of Cool Caribbeans around the world. Plus, while the aesthetic and the idea of cool itself has had a long history worldwide, the term "cool" itself was coined by Black Americans.

See also Token Black Friend. One of the few roles where there isn't really a such thing as "too black".


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     Anime & Manga  

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Spider in Anansi Boys. He's the Deuteragonist and son of Anansi (an African trickster deity), making Spider a minor deity in his own right. He makes a pretty good living using his divine powers and his charisma alone.
  • Hawk in Spenser, but adopted or set aside at will according to his own whims.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gunn in Angel is a streetwise, badass monster hunter who's popular and well known in the LA black community. He's definitely cooler than his white coworkers at Angel Investigations.
  • Power Rangers uses it occasionally, including Zack in the original Mighty Morphin' team and Will in Operation Overdrive.
  • Det. Neal Washington in Hill Street Blues, kind of; he's definitely got the mannerisms down but his accent and slang don't really stand out enough to qualify as this trope.
  • Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch.
  • Garth Marenghis Darkplace pokes fun at the racism inherent in this trope via copious amounts of Stylistic Suck - one main character is (from the dialogue) clearly supposed to be written as one of these and even gets a rap verse in someone's song, but Garth Marenghi cast his own publisher in the role, apparently assuming that because he is black he'd be able to pull it off. The fact that he is extremely uncool in appearance, voice and mannerisms, and is easily the worst actor in the entire cast, significantly diminishes the effect.
  • Blackish: The Grandfather (real name Earl Johnson but the main characters call him Pops), who is played by Laurence Fishburne. He acts more like a stereotypical Black male in a cool manner (despite being elderly) compared to most of the male main characters in the series.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Back in the '70s,"The Soulman" Rocky Johnson was the very embodiment of this trope. He passed along a generous quantity of his coolness to his son — a guy you might know as The Rock.
  • Indy wrestler Human Tornado is this trope. He can step dance and break dance. He can shoot threes and dunk. He's a pimp! And he's so manly he's immune to nut shots.
  • The Junkyard Dog, who was the first black wrestler to be the top star in a promotion when he worked for "Cowboy" Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling in the early 1980s.
  • Ron Simmons one-upped JYD when he defeated WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader to become the first African-American World Heavyweight Champion.
  • As Miss Texas in 1993, Jacqueline was the first woman to be ranked in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated "PWI 500" rankings. She was the inaugural USWA Women's Champion and held the title 14 times. Under her own name, she was also the first African-American WWE Women's Champion, the first African-American wrestler of either gender to win the WCW/WWE World Cruiserweight Titlenote  and the first African-American woman to be inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame. She has a black belt in Taekwondo, and, early in her career, once finished a match after separating her shoulder.
  • Da Soul Touchaz, best known for their appearances in CHIKARA, are a whole Power Stable of these, five brothas ("The Urban Sensation" C-Red, "Hot Chocolate" Acid Jaz, "M-80" Marshe Rockett, "The Urban-American Dream" Willie "Da Bomb" Richardson and "The Ghetto Gladiator" Trauma) and a sista ("The Urban Jewel" Dymond).

    Tabletop Games 

  • In the musical Passing Strange, there actually is a song named "Soul Brother", in which the young, middle-class Youth starts a punk rock band with his friends. They sing lines such as "My mother stands in doorways beggin' me to conform/Be a good, football playin' snazzy-dressing brother/so the sisters can be able/ to tell you to from the others" and "So Roots blew your MIND?! I learned that shit in third grade... in Ms Madeira's class".

    Video Game 
  • Drebin in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots fits this trope to a T. Somewhat made weird though in that he still monologues to you just as much as anyone else, often with an insane level of detail.
  • Starcraft II
    • Marauders, Black Power Armor-wearing infantry that launch grenades, and talk like a stereotypical player.
    • There's also Gabriel Tosh, the Spectre (read: unstable Ghost) with witch doctor vibes.
  • DJ Professor K, host of the titular pirate radio station in Jet Set Radio. For bonus points one of the songs is called "Sweet Soul Brother", it's rather funky.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: While the way he dresses is up to the player, there is no denying that Carl Johnson is very much badass, almost single-handedly turning the Grove Street families from laughingstock to top gang in Los Santos, all while purging the city of crack dealers.
  • Lúcio in Overwatch is a Brazilian Nice Guy who happens to be a world-touring DJ and still find the time to support his local community, have a Jet Set Radio inspiration, and strives to make the world a better place.

    Web Original 
  • For reasons known probably only to the creators, Master Chief of all people is turned into one in the webseries Life in a Game.
  • Thug Notes: A gang member with a PHD in classical literature summarizes and explains the greatest books and plays humanity has produced.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Barry White: Nobody has a voice as cool and smooth as Barry's.
  • James Brown: Cool singer, cool dancer, many catchy one-liners, had his entire band under his tight control, manages to get everybody into the groove and says it loud that he is "black and he's proud!" He even referred to himself as "Soul Brother Number One, and no other musician has influenced American music like him ."
  • From the late 1960s on Johnny "Guitar" Watson started becoming this trope by wearing Cool Shades, dreads, talking more jive-like while still playing like a "real mother for ya!"
  • Former West Indies cricketer and commentator Michael Holding, especially as impersonated in the Twelfth Man series. ("The Aussies love listening to me, mahn. I sound so cool.")
    • So cool is he, in fact, that he even managed to live down the time a commentator said "The Batsman's Holding, the Bowler's Willey".
  • Snoop Dogg he is so cool he even created his own slang.
  • Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti was also very much cooler than cool. Beaten up by government police, jailed several times, but still standing up against them while making groovy tunes.
  • Isaac Hayes: He was the creator of the theme song for Shaft and performed it also, he even voiced a soul brotha character on South Park.
  • Julius "Dr.J" Erving the EX-NBA basketball player might not have been the greatest NBA player ever but he is one of the greatest and and no doubt he is the coolest. His appearance matched the South Brotha look with the big afro not to mention his smooth persona and his cool game style. He was cool enough to co-host his own computer game, One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.
  • You can easily say ex-football and baseball player Deion Sanders fits this trope with his cockiness and confidence, his flashy appearance off and on the field, and also not to mention his high quality performance when he plays, and having the nickname "Prime Time" helps him fit this trope even more.
  • You can't say retired NBA player Allen Iverson doesn't fits this troupe for his persona on and off the court some say he helped the cornrows become more fashionable.
  • Muhammad Ali was able to be one despite not speaking in fluent street.
  • Jack Johnson the boxer had style in boxing that no one had before which helped him become the first Black heavyweight, not only did he have boxing style no boxer had before he had the cocky egotistical persona no athlete had before especially by a Black athlete since the years when he was boxing was a few decades after slavery was abolished.

I'm just talkin' about Shaft! Can you dig it?