Rick James
Street Songs


4.0
excellent

Review

by ohcleverhansyou USER (39 Reviews)
October 11th, 2006 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1981 | Tracklist


Rick James has become more recognized as an icon than he has been as a musician, especially thanks to a certain sketch comedy show. I decided to investigate the musician, so I got his debut album, Street Songs. First things first, the front cover of this album is no where near as awesome as the back cover, with a still frame of a police officer with his hand on Slick Rick’s rear, Rick’s eyebrow raised, during an arrest.

The first thing that surprised me was Rick is a very capable bassist, something I greatly appreciate. The famous bass line of “Superfreak” is a good example, but it is fairly simple. Other good bass lines appear in “Give It To Me Baby” and “Ghetto Life” where the bass intertwines with the funky brass section. The result is a couple of very danceable funk numbers. Street Songs has some good fun funk songs. The beat and rhythm are infectious, highlighted by claps, Rick’s distinctive voice, and of course his bass lines. The songs are deceptively simple. The bass holds each of these together, the brass spice things up, and Rick’s fun voice turns the songs like “Give It To Me Baby” and “Below the Funk (Pass the J)” into funky masterpieces.

Special attention must be paid to the mega hit, “Superfreak.” I’ll admit, I recognized this song from MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.” But this is one great, great song. It’s so much fun listening to, and it’s great dancing like an idiot to it, all thanks to that simple little bass line. There are so many funny little things going on in the song. From Rick calling “Temptation sing!” before the deep voiced back up singer comes in to him setting up the sax solo with “Blow Daddy!” it’s such a cool song. This brings up the deep voiced back up singer. If you pay attention, he comes up in “Give It To Me Baby” repeating certain lyrics. He also shows up in “Ghetto Life.” He reminds me of George Clinton, and I’ve come to the conclusion that every decent funk song should have a deep voiced black back up singer inserted randomly. James Earl Jones does not realize the untapped market.

With songs like “Mr. Policeman” and “Ghetto Life,” Rick tries to inject some political message into his music, but the efforts seem half-baked. “Ghetto Life” illustrates…living in the ghetto. It was hard. Okay. “Mr. Policeman” has some more feeling in it, but it’s a little simplistic. I don’t know, with bands like the Clash, Rage Against the Machine, or albums like Maggot Brain, that’s when I expect and welcome some politics with my music. But politics and Rick James" It’s a little hard to juxtapose a political song like “Ghetto Life” next to a song titled “Make Love to Me.” Luckily, “Ghetto Life” makes up for everything with funky bass, decent singing, and hot brass. “Mr. Policeman” misses the mark in that respect. It’s an average song, but there’s no fun, and not that much interesting musically.

There are two ballads in Street Songs, “Make Love to Me” and “Fire and Desire.” These rely a lot less on the explosive qualities of the brass and the funk of the bass, and a lot more on Rick’s merit as a singer. This was the biggest surprise for me: Rick can sing. On “Fire and Desire” he really showcases his singing as he belts out his tale of his misguided past. “Make Love to Me” is a lot less successful as a song. It goes on and on, not really doing much. In the same way “Mr. Policeman” is all (simplistic) politics, “Make Love to Me” is all seduction. There’s little interesting musically going on. The duet between Rick and Teena Marie in “Fire and Desire” is entrancing simply because of the quality of each singer’s voice.

Street Songs is a good funk album. Toward the end of the little booklet that came with my CD, Rick James gives a friendly warning that his music may be harmful to our feet. But his music strives to be more than that, in the way Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone changed how we view funk bands. Though not as successful as those two, Rick James still made some funky music. On an aside, what the hell is “Motown"” I really feel I should know this. Street Songs was labeled a Motown classic. I’ve heard the term before, but I’m hoping someone can explain it to me. Back to Rick. At turns fun, sentimental, and smooth, Rick James makes some good music. This “Motown classic” Street Songs is a testament to that.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TurnTheOtherWay
October 11th 2006


459 Comments


Give me paragraphs or give me death!

ohcleverhansyou
October 11th 2006


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have spared you.

Zesty Mordant
October 11th 2006


1196 Comments


Great review. What makes it so particularly good is that you avoided saying that fucking sentence that's most often associated with him.

stompybeardo
October 12th 2006


746 Comments


im rick james bitch

The Jungler
October 12th 2006


4826 Comments


Ghetto Life is so great. Good review too, good to see some Rick James up in here.

Zesty Mordant
October 12th 2006


1196 Comments


im rick james bitch

that's it im getting you banned you waste of life

TurnTheOtherWay
October 12th 2006


459 Comments


Now that I can read it, this is an excellent review. I've been interested in Rick's music for a while, but I wasn't sure if it would be that good. I'll definitely pick this up soon.

stompybeardo
October 12th 2006


746 Comments


zesty me do fist+face=floor cry, rick james is great party music

RottedFlesh
October 12th 2006


213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I sure hope that wasn't really a bannable offense...if so i fear we would all be one step closer to being facist. In either case Rick James never stops amusing me.This Message Edited On 10.12.06

ohcleverhansyou
October 13th 2006


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oo comments. Nice comments. Party comments. I actually listened to this before seeing the Chappelle skit, so I think I could take Rick James a little more seriously, sort of, yeah....I don't remember the skit at all, but it can't be better than the Wayne Brady one.

Otisbum
September 23rd 2007


1913 Comments


Super Freak is such a surprisingly awesome song.

FenderUsa
March 7th 2008


582 Comments


cocaine's a hell of a drug

Aeaon
May 2nd 2011


188 Comments


That's NOT his first album.

SharkTooth
May 4th 2014


14033 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

glorious album

BallsToTheWall
April 13th 2017


49618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Incredible.

Digging: Pantera - Power Metal

evilford
April 13th 2017


42100 Comments


CHARLIE MURPHY!!!!!!

KILL
April 20th 2018


81232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cmon gurl



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