I’m really not good at writing eulogies. I never knew Rick James personally. I wasn’t born yet during his period of fame. I was only around for that lovely period of his life where he was being weaned off the crack pipe and burning women. Everyone needs a hobby.
My relationship with Super Freak is on a deeper, more intense and emotional level. Of course I’m talking about the Rick James episode of Chappelle’s Show, the most groundbreaking half-hour of TV in my lifetime. If you haven’t seen the Rick James episode or heard its famous quotes, let me be the first to say, “Welcome back to society after six months holed up in a shack in the woods with your fingers in your ears, eating canned steak and wearing aluminum foil hats.”
Once the Rick James episode was over, things felt different. It was like being in the eye of the storm during a hurricane. The laughter seemed to consume people. Nobody knew what to do. It was like spending an entire marathon running against a monkey. (Monkey’s are funny, I shouldn’t have to tell you this.)
The next day in class, it was infectious. Everyone, everywhere was throwing the quotes back and forth at each other. “I’m Rick James, bitch!” “UNITY!” “Fuck yo couch, nigga!” “Cocaine’s a helluva drug.” It went on like that over and over for weeks. People didn’t have conversations on February the 12th, 2004. It was all Rick James quotes over and over, all day long.
If you went to church to confess your sins, the priest didn’t say: “Say 50 Hail Marys.” The priest said: “Wide-nosed-having motherfuckers, they never shoulda given you niggaz money! You don’t appreciate SHIT!” Then he had an altar boy lick his taint.
If you went to the market and asked for a pound of lean pastrami, the deli worker didn’t say: “Any cheese with that?” He said: “I’m sorry, Charlie Murphy, it was an accident. I was having too much fun. I offer you a truce. The stickiest of the icky. You want to smoke with the old boy Rick James?”
If you went to the liquor store, the cashier didn’t ask for an ID. He said: “Drink up. Be merry. Welcome to the China Club. A ching a chang chung a ching a chang chung.” Beer flowed like wine that day.
During Spring Break my friend Rob and I had ten-minute conversations lifted out of the show. I called my parents, I didn’t tell them about classes, money, or anything. I said, “I wish I had more hands, so I could give your titties four thumbs down. Now send more money, bitches!” My mom hasn’t spoken to me since. But it was worth it.
Now, the quotes have lost their innocence. You can no longer get smashed and slap your friends in the face or slam their head up against a bar and say, “Nigga that was weeks ago, motherfucker!” We live in a new world after August the 6th, the sad death of Richard Eduardo James IV. (I actually don’t know his full name, but bear with me.) He will be missed. Superfreaky, indeed.