Super Freak

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"Super Freak"
Single by Rick James
from the album Street Songs
Released July 10, 1981
Format Vinyl record (7")
Recorded 1981
Genre Rhythm and blues,[1] funk[2]
Length 3:24 (album version)
7:05 (12" version)
Label Gordy
Writer(s) Rick James, Alonzo Miller
Producer(s) Rick James
Rick James singles chronology
"Give It to Me Baby"
"Super Freak"
"Ghetto Life"
Music sample

"Super Freak" is a 1981 hit single produced and performed by Rick James. The song, co-written by James and Alonzo Miller, was first released on James' album Street Songs and became one of James' signature songs. It features background vocals from Motown labelmates The Temptations, in which the bass singer is James' uncle Melvin Franklin, and Canadian singer Taborah Johnson. "Freak" is a slang term for, as described in the song's lyrics, "...a very kinky girl / The kind you don't take home to mother". Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song #477 in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Chart performance[edit]

The song was a big hit for James in 1981, charting on the pop, R&B and dance charts in the U.S. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song peaked at #16 in the fall of 1981 and spent 10 weeks in the top 40. Together with two other singles from Street Songs, "Give It to Me Baby" and "Ghetto Life", it spent three weeks at #1 on the American dance charts earlier that year.

Chart (1981-1982) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[3] 2
Canadian RPM Top Singles[4] 40
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[5] 2
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[6] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8] 16
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[8] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles[8] 3

Cover versions[edit]

Live cover performances[edit]


  • The riff of the song was most popularly sampled in 1990 by MC Hammer in his best known single, "U Can't Touch This". The song was also sampled Wassuup by Da Muttz in 2001.
  • Hip hop artist GZA/Genius sampled the song on his debut 1991 album Words from the Genius.
  • In 1997, artist Jude's song entitled "Rick James" (#28 Billboard Modern Rock Chart) featured the words "Oh, Rick James was the original Super Freak" in its chorus line.
  • The title track of Jay-Z's 2006 comeback album Kingdom Come features a sample from "Super Freak".
  • In the 2007 song "Freaky Gurl" by Gucci Mane, the lines in the chorus pay homage to the original Rick James song.
  • In 2007, French actor/rapper Disiz la Peste released a rap song in French that uses of "Super Freak" as the instrumental backing.
  • In 2013 british singer Lily Allen sampled the song for her single Hard out Here

Beatfreakz cover[edit]

In 2006, the Beatfreakz covered the song, as "Superfreak", and gained a #7 UK hit with it.

Chart (2006-2007) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[9] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Dance Flanders)[9] 8
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[10] 6
France (SNEP)[11] 56
Irish Singles Chart[12] 20
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[13] 34
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[14] 26
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[15] 66
UK (Official Charts Company)[16] 7

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hank Stuever. "James may have been freaky, but he made us all dance". The Washington Post. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 July 2013.  "Rick James (...) will sing eternally the 1981 R&B dance hit that made him: "Super Freak,""
  2. ^ Stuart Rosenberg (2009). iUniverse, ed. Rock and Roll and the American Landscape: The Birth of an Industry and the Expansion of the Popular Culture, 1955-1969. p. 143. ISBN 978-1440164583.  "Rick James (...) would later go on to record the 1981 funk classic, “Super Freak;”"
  3. ^ " – Rick James – Super Freak" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  4. ^ "Super freak in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Rick James search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  6. ^ " – Rick James – Super Freak" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  7. ^ " – Rick James – Super Freak". Top 40 Singles.
  8. ^ a b c "awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. 
  9. ^ a b " – Beatfreakz – Superfreak" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  10. ^ "Beatfreakz: Superfreak" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  11. ^ " – Beatfreakz – Superfreak" (in French). Les classement single.
  12. ^ "Superfreak in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 14 July 2013.  Only one result when searching "Superfreak"
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Beatfreakz search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  14. ^ " – Beatfreakz – Superfreak" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  15. ^ Romanian peak at the Wayback Machine (archived December 6, 2006)
  16. ^ "2006 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 21st October 2006". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Try It Out" / "Hold Tight" by Gino Soccio
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
(with "Give It to Me Baby" and "Ghetto Life")

July 25, 1981 - August 8, 1981
Succeeded by
"I'm in Love" by Evelyn King