Today is the first day of Black History Month and also happens to be one of our favorite ground-breaking black artists and legends birthdays Mr. Big Time.…Rick James, the self proclaimed king of punk funk.
His music was intoxicating and incredible. James’s unique blend of funk, rock, R&B, and soul earned him critical acclaim and a large following, particularly in the 1980s when he released hit songs such as “Super Freak” and “Give It To Me Baby.”
He was known for his powerful vocals, innovative production techniques, and boundary-pushing lyrics that explored themes of sexuality, drugs, and street life. His unapologetic embodiment of the black experience through sound quickly made him the people’s champion. Rocking sold out tours smoking the biggest joints of marijuana during his performances on stage in every city and encouraging the audience to do the same. To live with out fear is what made people love him so much… this man was on fire.
In the 1980s MTV was fresh on the scene. A 24 hour Music television channel devoted to popular music but refused to play any black Artist on their broadcast.
Rick James was in the height of his fame and popularity and felt his music should be included in their daily programming. However, MTV refused to play any of his music videos or black artist in general. So in pure bad boy fashion Rick refused to bite his tongue and fight the power. Rick felt disrespected and used his celebrity platform to challenge the system and denounce MTV’s racist ways in public interviews.
His genius and rebellious attitude made Rick James a ghetto superstar. Rick was a visionary and had the pure talent to back it up he wanted to be the first Black Rock Star with street credibility. Like if David Bowie and Roger Daltrey were from the hood. He wanted that allure and his stage show with his Stone City band would rival any major rock band at the time like “Kiss” with their theatrics, pyrotechnics and explosions. The stone city bands flashy outfits had sex appeal and was comprised of expensive cowboy boots, spandex with a touch of disco glitter but don’t get it twisted they all rocked braids like African warriors.
No one could deny Rick James swagger…unmatched and in a league of his own.
He was a sex symbol, multi-talented musician and producer who left a lasting impact on the music industry. Born in Buffalo, New York in 1948, James began his music career in the 1960s, playing bass guitar for various bands before eventually forming his own group, The Mynah Birds.
In addition to his musical talent, James was also a skilled producer, working with other artists such as Teena Marie, The Mary Jane Girls, and Eddie Murphy. He was a pioneer in the use of synthesizers and drum machines in funk music and was one of the first musicians to incorporate elements of punk and heavy metal into his sound.
Despite his stardom and success, James struggled with addiction and legal issues throughout his life, including a highly publicized stint in prison. Nevertheless, his influence on the music industry cannot be overstated. He was a true innovator and boundary-pusher, and his music continues to inspire and influence musicians to this day.
James remains an icon of the music world and a true testament to the power of artistic creativity. Happy heavenly birthday, Rick James!
Here’s 5 of our favorite Rick James records.
High On Your Love Suite..One Mo Hit
Teena Marie – I’m Just A Sucker For Your Love ft Rick James
You and I
Written by DProsper