I’ve been listening to a lot of Rick James over the past few weeks and I’ve come to realize that’s he’s a genius.
If you listen to the musical structure of the songs there is a lot to appreciate. Good use of instrumental counter-point, and a serious understanding of what makes a good groove. In addition to his talent for creating visceral funk music the lyrics he wrote went perfectly with the songs. Most of his lyrics talked about either getting laid, smoking pot or life in the ghetto. I wonder how the sound of funk would have continued to evolve after the 1980’s if hip-hop hadn’t taken off and displaced funk as the voice of black music.
Unfortunately, his slew of personal problems began to overshadow his creativity has time went on. I also think he let his bitter feud with Prince get the best of him.
Rick James is more remembered now for his criminal and drug exploits during the height of his fame but if you look past his notoriety at the music he created it was remarkable.