guys made timeless music, we always say that the type of music Hip-Hop is, when
we are older we won’t really be able to enjoy it…
Rick: Hip-Hop is
a replica or a refurbished version of old school. When you can’t make
a hit record unless you do a Rick James album what does that tell you? On one
hand I love it, but on the other hand it is taking music out of schools and
kids don’t know how to play instruments. They resort to the best thing
they know how, like black people surviving, taking away an art form. Can I really
love that? I am pro-black, so for me to see these kids grow up in the projects
and they can’t play nothing, but they can take a Rick James record and
turn that around the turntable as Rap: sitting, drinking Crystal. I mean it’s
a beautiful thing just as well.
What do you think about kids not playing instruments, I am a former musician
myself I used to take interest in guitar and drums…
Rick: I think it
is a very sad thing, I think it’s a plot by the government, number 1 to
take music out of schools. I think it is the worst thing that the government
has done to the educational program. When I was growing up, you could play guitar,
drums, saxophone, learn music theory, harmony all that s**t. Now, you can’t
even get an instrument in high school and kids have nothing to r resort too,
and that’s a very sad thing.
Can you speak on that project that you, Kanye West and Bumpy Johnson are doing?
What did you guys do together?
Rick: Well that’s
a very strange thing, how that happened. My son called me up once when I talked
to him, and said to me that his favorite rapper was Kanye West, and I didn’t
know who the hell Kanye West was. He had introduced me to Andre from Outkast
in Atlanta and I didn’t know who the hell he was either. I was wearing
an Outkast shirt that I had bought, so I went over to him and we talked, I told
him I loved all his records, but I didn’t know one record. This Kanye
West thing my son turned me on to it too and my ex-wife, she said “Rick
you have to get this album by this kid, Kanye West,” so I said “why
is it so special?” Because he doesn’t look like a rapper with gold
teeth, baseball hats on the side, he’s not talking about b***hes and hoes,
and he isn’t shooting people. He actually has some religious connotation
to his music, which really attracted me. I went and bought the album and I liked
it, thought this boy had some talent, next thing I am getting a call to do a
Kanye West bit. So you know God works in mysterious ways.
So did you play instruments or just sing?
Rick: What I did
is, I laid about 16 tracks of vocals, just to help with the melody. He was a
very sweet kid, very humble. It was really a joy; it is always a joy watching
these young kids who learned from us do what they do now. Because a lot of stuff
these kids are doing, I can’t do. I hear some tracks going on, and say
what was he on? I think they need to get together more often. One of the reasons
why Andre and Outkast is so great is because they grew up from what he told
me, on the old school. I mean he knows about the Beatles; he knows about Rick
James, Jimi Hendrix; he has done his homework. Their album is one of the best
rap album’s I have ever heard.
Did you work with Andre?
Rick: We are trying
to match our schedules, it’s just that he is so busy now. What he is going
through right now, I went through. He is so busy I don’t even like bugging
him, and we keep missing each other on the phone. He wants to work with me really
bad and I want to work with him also. But if we never work together its okay,
I just want him to enjoy his fame. Who knows if next year anybody will buy Outkast;
and if he strays to far away from his black base, he is really going to lose
it. It going to be like a Prince thing, that’s what f**ked Prince up;
he was getting too white. There is a middle ground there, cause I think me,
Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, The Commodores got that middle ground, unlike
Lenny Kravitz. He wants to do a black thing but he is successful with his white
thing, but he doesn’t feel comfortable because it’s a white thing
and there are no black people in the crowd. If you have 20,000 white people
out there paying 100.00 a ticket, and all are girls, be happy! People come over
to my house, musicians, and Lenny won’t touch an instrument, because he
feels inferior. Think about it, its like Hootie & the Blowfish trying to
come up on stage and jam with me.
You talking about a double album, talk to me a little bit about that.
going to have about 26/27 songs and it is going to be very interesting, it is
going to be a lot of things that I always wanted to do.
What kind of label situation are you working out?
Rick: I am doing
my own label, independent. I want to be just like Puffy. I want to make $700
million. If I could have done it 20 years ago, I would have done it.
I spoke to Stephanie Mills, and she kind of echoed the same thing about the
entrepreneurship of rappers and she’s doing her own independent thing
too. I think that is a great thing for you guys especially because people are
going to get it and you guys obviously get the lion share of their money.
Rick: When I was
at the BET Awards this year, I was totally happy. When I saw [Grandmaster Flash
& The Furious Five], it almost brought tears to my eyes. Because they were
so powerful and this is where Rap started, they weren’t singing about
killing people and AK’s or sticking d*cks up b***hes a####. Then, Rap
was a statement, “Don’t push me cause I am close to the edge”
that’s still going on.” It’s like a jungle sometimes,”
some of the greatest statement ever made. The old school segment was great,
and my daughter got a chance to see how powerful Rap was, she got to see the
Would you say what you did back in the day was risky? “Super Freak,”
was that shocking back then?
that I have written, is stuff that comes from me, like George Clinton he writes
sci-fi Funk, and he is great at it. He is a quintessential Funk artist. My musical
intake is so much that it is hard for me to be new wave, because I come from
so many different areas, every song that I have ever written came from my heart,
I am not Prince, I don’t write stupid s**t. I talk about the streets,
love affairs, a fire desire.
What’s your favorite song?
Rick: I don’t
really have a favorite song, but I have favorite moments. The moments with Temptations,
I have the song with all seven Temptations, in the world and a video. Those
are some of my proudest moments; there isn’t another recording with all
seven. Recording with Smokey Robinson was another great moment; with Chaka Khan
was another great moment.
What about Eddie Murphy [Eddie Murphy scored a hit in the 80’s with the
Rick James produced “Party All The Time”]
Rick: Eddie Murphy
was a boring moment… it was exciting to take a comedian who has a great
voice and give him a hit record.
People try to crack jokes on that…
Rick: They can
crack all the jokes they want on Eddie Murphy. DJ’s did not want to play,
“Party all the Time.” He didn’t do radio. He was already a
multi-millionaire. He said, “f**k y’all,” and they didn’t
want him to be a success, but his record was so strong they couldn’t stop
it. You can’t stop a hit record, a bulls**t record, you can promote the
hell out of it and nothing will happen. There is no music that is going to change
your way of dress, the constitution, your religion, or anything like that. Matter
of fact a lot of Rap music has taken black people back 900 years. Whenever I
hear black people say, “N***er,” it makes me sick to my stomach.
Number one, the word has nothing to do with black people, it makes me sick to
hear white people scream, “N***er,” because of the derogative term
that it has come to be, which it wasn’t originally. Music has taken a
turn for the worst, it is an art form, but I don’t call it music.