Funkier than ‘Super Freak’: 10 enduring flashes of Rick James’ genius

It was during a 1980 appearance on Soul Train, that host Don Cornelius summed up a handful of defining points that funk rebel Rick James earned—and would be saddled with—during his brief yet contradictory lifetime.

“Our next guest is one of the most prolific songwriters, right? One of the most innovative producers. Certainly one of the most exciting and talented performers. And also one of the strangest men I’ve ever met.” This precedes an animated, some would say coked-up, performance of “Big Time,” where James instills the crowd with chants about “fire it up” right before Cornelius, who just minutes ago proselytized about this outlandishly candid performer, stoically puts an end to these…


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