The ’90s Loved Rick James

Welcome to February on DLT90s, where I’ll be remembering an album you mighta heard of called All Eyez On Me , speakin’ on the great DJ Premier, and for Valentine’s week, dropping my 25 Favorite Love Songs of All Time. And speaking of all-time, today would have been the 63rd birthday of one of the baddest muthafukkas of all-time… one of the best-singin’, best-lookin’ muthafukkas you ever seen… hold my drink, bitch.

To most of those not old enough to remember him at the height of his popularity, Rick James has mostly been immortalized by that skit I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The “I’m Rick James, Bitch!” segment from Chappelle’s Show in 2004 was so popular, it even gave Rick a newfound popularity of his own, right before he suddenly died that same summer. But to those who knew of him long before that, Rick was also one of the biggest and most infamous acts in music during the ’70s and ’80s. He made great music and later made some memorable headlines as well. His classic songs from his prime years have been sampled by a number of artists, especially in the ’90s… and here are just a few examples:

MC Hammer “U Can’t Touch This” (1990) X Rick James “Super Freak” (1980): The most high-profile, and most obvious, of the bunch comes courtesy of this big gigantic hit from ’90. Back when Rick dropped “Super Freak” and had everybody goin’ mad, I was barely walking, but I was in 5th grade cuttin’ it up at the dances when Hammer dropped the single the put him over the top into superstardom. Rick wasn’t as crazy about the song, and took Hammer to court over it, but all was resolved and Rick got his money and writing credit. Break it down!

Redman “Smoke Buddah” (1996) X Rick James “Mary Jane” (1978): If there were ever a fitting way to use Rick’s late-’70s weed anthem for a mid-’90s weed anthem, Redman woulda be one of the main people to call on. “Mary Jane” has been used several other times by artists such as EPMD, Da Brat, Mack 10, etc. but Red’s “Smoke Buddah” seems the most appropriate for this entry, as he (second only to Snoop) has been known to salute the cannabis just as often as Rick did in his day.

Mary J. Blige feat. Nas “Love Is All We Need” (1997) X Rick James “Moonchild” (1985): One of Rick’s lesser-acknowledged tracks from the mid-’80s suddenly seemed to become a pretty popular sample in 1997. Also being used by Jay-Z, and again by Diamond D in that same year, Rick’s “Moonchild” was most famously used for Mary J. Blige’s lead single from her third album Share My World. With Nas adding 16 bars, MJB’s “Love Is All We Need” set things off for her in ’97, partly due to O.G. Slick Rick’s ’85 swagger.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Cold Blooded” (1999) X Rick James “Cold Blooded” (1983): Back when Rick was diggin’ his feet in Eddie Murphy‘s couch n’shit, he had a #1 hit with “Cold Blooded”. Meanwhile in Brooklyn, NY, a 15-year-old Russell Jones apparently loved the song so much, he decided to sing his own version 16 years later. Produced by The Neptunes, ODB did “Cold Blooded” as only he could do, as part of his crazy-by-crazy standards Nigga Please album. The careers of both Rick and ODB share some similarities, with the most unfortunate being that their drug issues took both of their lives in 2004.

-D!

7 Responses to The ’90s Loved Rick James

  1. Mark Dub says:

    Man…due to my brother’s influence, I was on Rick James early. I might’ve been the only 7 yr old singing Superfreak & Coldblooded. I love this post.

  2. Kofi Simmons says:

    Rick was that crazy mother****er in hip hop before hip hop had it’s first crazy mother****er.

  3. dinastyinc says:

    Ages ago when I first heard of Rick James (via “Superfreak” I believe), I don’t know why but I just didn’t associate him and r&b together. I guess because his image just didn’t fit inside that r&b box?? And he was signed to Motown at that. We all know what Motown was like in it’s prime.

    So cut to years later when I began hearing him singing on all these songs I recognize, and then the Teena Marie “Unsung” special, I was like “that crazy muthafucka made all this great music!?” Just goes to show that Rick’s personal life may have been a mess, but the talent was undeniable.

  4. shone jones says:

    To me, Rick James was the bridge between the 70s and 80s. He was one of the last legit funk artists left in that decade.

  5. […] The ’90s Loved Rick James by Danj! […]

  6. MsYoung81 says:

    My mom, being the funky soul sista she was, played a lot of Rick James in the house growing up. Happy was the first song I remember hearing by him and Lady T and I was hooked. Gotta love the late drunk nights with momma listening to that old 70’s music. LOL

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