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Super Freak (1981) - Rick James (Rick James) - All about the song "Super Freak"

His crazy lifestyle may have overshadowed the music, but it didn't, because Rick James was a very talented musician!

Rick James (Rick James) - Super Freak (1981)

The composition "Super Freak" ("Super Freak") was written in 1981 by American musician and producer Rick James and released as a single. The track was included in the 5th studio album of the musician, which is called "Street Songs" (1981). "Super Freak" was co-written by James Miller and Alonzo Miller.

The meaning of the song

This song is about a girl who is very fond of sexual adventures, especially with band members. "Freak" is the same guy from the group who is ready for anything. "Super Ugly" is the absolute extent of such a sexy guy.

James was known for his penchant for "bizarre" behavior, which got him in trouble with the law when he and his girlfriend were arrested for kidnapping another girl for sex.

Background…

It took Rick James over ten years to become famous. As a teenager, he played in bands, played guitar and bass, and drummed in jazz bands, first in Buffalo, then in New York. His first notable team was The Mynah Birds, formed in 1965 when he moved to Canada. Then he served in the Navy Reserve ... They mixed musical styles, offering bits of rock, soul and even hippie folk. Neil Young was a part of the band for a while, and the band even recorded a single for Columbia and a few sessions for Motown. They will see the light much later...

Motown Records was still interested in James, but refused to sign him as an artist, as he was being pursued by the law. Then he wrote songs for such artists as Bobby Taylor, David Ruffin and The Spinners. The meeting with Stevie Wonder did not produce musical results, but Wonder awarded musician Ricky James Matthews with a shorter title - Ricky James.

In 1974, now simply Rick James, he released the funk-rock single "My Mama" for A&M, but after returning to Motown he had to wait four years to be recognized. And when this happened, it was already difficult to stop him ...

  • The single "You And I", recorded with his Stone City Band, became popular and introduced James' upbeat "funk-a-skip" sound to the general public. The song entered the Top 20 in the US.
  • The musician repeated the formula for success. The song "Mary Jane" became another hit, although not as loud as "You And I". However, sales of James' debut album Come Get It! were high.
  • This success was followed by the albums "Bustin 'Out Of L Seven" and "Fire It Up", which made it clear to listeners and critics that Rick James is not an ordinary musician.
  • In 1981, the platinum award-winning Street Songs was his fifth album in three years. The album introduced a new very cool hit by Rick James called "Super Freak". It was the same monster as "Give It To Me Baby". It was based on James' hypnotism, bass lines and grooves that were aimed at the dance floor and success. They still sound very fresh.

Recording "Super Freak"

Explaining how Rick James came up with the song, James told Musician magazine in 1983:

“I wanted to write a stupid song. I was in the studio. All the other songs for the "Street Songs" album were already done. Then I decided to quickly make Super Freak. I wanted a stupid song with some new wave texture. So I just came up with this little stupid phrase and propagated it. First I came up with the bass part. Then I overdubbed it with guitar and keyboards, playing a stupid "ehh, ehh" keyboard part. Then I found a setup on my Oberheim OB-Xa that I've wanted to use for a long time - it sounds like a ghost. And I added a very operatic vocal structure to it because I really like opera and classical music. You can often hear this in my music. So I put in a low vocal, "She's fine." Very operatic and a little funny."

Composition release

The track "Super Freak" was released in the summer of 1981, around the time MTV began broadcasting. Together with director Nick Saxton, the musician shot videos for "Give It To Me Baby" and "Super Freak", hoping that they would appear on the air. However, at that time MTV refused to play videos of black artists: they rejected them, continuing to feed America with a constant stream of rock and Europop.

This refusal to play black music was a holdover from the station's programming, where it was believed that you would lose your white listeners if you played black music. By the way, the first black artists to perform on MTV with a new song were Musical Youth, a five-piece British Jamaican reggae band. Despite adapting the marijuana-smoking song, they were far less intimidating to network executives than a sequin-clad James singing about kinky sex. This color barrier was broken by Michael Jackson, who contributed to the new sound of several generations at once with his videos for songs from the Thriller album. His first video on MTV was a video for the song
"Billie Jean" in 1983.

Achievements

"Super Freak" became the biggest pop hit of Rick James' musical career. The song peaked at number 16 in the US, a modest Top 100 success for the musician. However, it is worth noting an important detail: 4 Rick James songs became # 1 R&B hits, and the musician himself became a legend and went down in music history as a prolific producer and innovator of funk. The biggest R&B hit from "Street Songs" (1981) was "Give It to Me Baby", which became, of course, No. 1. The track "Super Freak" only reached number 3 on the chart.

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