Coming to terms with Rick James’ legacy


“We are being made to sit in the back of the bus, television-style,” he tells a reporter. “It’s not ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ There are black people here, and we make music. Don’t we exist?”

He had the loud, unattainable nature of a black man who had grown powerless, being beaten up by white kids on the block, and which proved to be revolutionary in another white space: the music industry. In 1981, he called out law enforcement brutality in the song “Mr. Policeman.” “I’m very vocal about injustice,” he says in archival footage. “I’ve never been one to bite my tongue and I never will.”

So, in some ways, James was a hero. Even Jenkins, who is a musician himself, relates to him. “I was someone who loved rock ‘n’ roll, hip-hop, skateboarding — a wide range of things. And I was like a weirdo ball,” recalled the director, who was known for “Wu-Tang Clan: Off Mix”. End Men” and “Word is Bond”. He continued, “But today, you can have rappers who are heavily metal-influenced, and no one’s going to say, ‘You’re a blonde boy or you’re a bukkake.’ Rick was an early proponent of this.”

But the empowerment that he received from his success also gave him additional and entitlement that he had never experienced growing up. “You mix all those early learnings with an environment where no one tells you, that math adds up to a bad equation,” Jenkins continued.

This “bad equation” includes the singer’s own estimated, $6,000 to $8,000 weekly cocaine addiction, a parade of women inside and outside her home—some of whom, the film claims, video of sex acts at parties. taped. “Daddy had his share of women, that’s for sure,” Ty James says in the film.



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