Mary Jane (Rick James song)
|Single by Rick James|
|from the album Come Get It!|
|Released||September 9, 1978|
|Format||7" vinyl, 12" vinyl|
|Label||Gordy / Motown|
|Producer(s)||Rick James, Art Stewart|
|Rick James singles chronology|
"Mary Jane" is a song by American funk singer Rick James. It was released in 1978 as the second single from his debut album Come Get It!. The song peaked in the top five on the R&B charts in the United States in 1978. As one of his earliest hits as a solo artist, it is one of his most notable songs. It was composed by James, along with keyboardist Billy Nunn, who was credited for the keyboards, strings, background vocals, helping to compose the song, arranging flute parts, and other instrumentation work.
"Mary Jane" was released in 1978 on Rick James debut album, Come Get It!, and was one of the first songs to utilize the style of music Rick James labeled "punk-funk."
The song begins with a more intense combination of string instruments with electric and bass guitars expected in more heavy rock and funk songs only to lead into a more simple, flute-accompanied doo-wop sort of tune. A chorus repeatedly sings "doo doo doo doo, Mary Jane!" in a high vocal register (giving the song a lighter feel and making it sound more like a classic R&B composition) leading into Rick James' main vocals. Similar to Rick James' "Super Freak" the lead vocalist (Rick James) narrates his experience with a kinky, voluptuous woman (in this case, "marijuana" personified) who, despite being interested in other men (which is apparently not a cause for shock to James), cheers Rick up with her love and "takes [him] to paradise." Even though Rick is aware that she is not the kind of girl "you can just tie down", he remains attracted and affectionate towards her, even ending the song with lyrics such as "I love her just the same" and "Mary plays no games."
The style of music Rick James labeled "punk-funk" which was defined in the song has been used by notable artists such as The Temptations, Smokey Robinson (with whom James collaborated to create the hit "Ebony Eyes"), Cameo, The Gap Band, Eddie Murphy, and The Ohio Players.
The song has been covered and sampled by numerous artists. It was sampled for the song "Weakness" by Detroit Hip Hop group House of Krazees, off their 1995 EP Outbreed. It was sampled in the smash hit "I'm Real (Murder Remix)" by Jennifer Lopez ft. Ja Rule, "Jane" (1988) by EPMD, "Smoke Buddah" by Redman, "Funky Payback" (1991) by rap group O.G. Style, "Rollin' the Dice" (1992) by Master P, "Mari" by Frost, "Sittin' on Top of the World" by Da Brat (1996), and DJ Honda feat. Beatnuts – "On the Mic". Coolio sampled the song to create a hip-hop version called "(I'm in Love with) Mary Jane" on the soundtrack to the film Half Baked. It was also closely sampled along with another song written by Rick James, known as "All Night Long", in Mary J. Blige's song "Mary Jane (All Night Long)." The introduction to the song is sampled in Pretty Ricky's "On the Hotline." Though the tempo has been slowed, the melody heard in Weezer's "Peace", bears resemblance to the opening riff of "Mary Jane". It is believed to be the origin of the band title for the Mary Jane Girls (a popular band in the '80s), who performed on James's composition "All Night Long".
Mack 10's song on Them Thangs uses a sample from this song.
James' stage banter from a live performance of "Mary Jane" at Long Beach Arena in July 1981 was sampled in Kanye West's 2010 single "Runaway," including the phrases "And I want to show you how you all look like beautiful stars tonight" and "Look at you!"
Singer Lana Del Rey sampled the song on her song "Blue Jeans".
Kendrick Lamar recently sampled another live version of this song in his track "DNA" from his 2017 album DAMN.
- Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Instrumentation and Composed by Rick James
- Produced by Art Stewart