Super Freak

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"Super Freak"
Rick james-super freak s.jpg
Single by Rick James
from the album Street Songs
Released1981
Format7" vinyl
GenreFunk[1][2]
Length
  • 3:24 (Album/7" version)
  • 7:05 (12" version)
LabelGordy
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Rick James
Rick James singles chronology
"Give It to Me Baby"
(1981)
"Super Freak"
(1981)
"Ghetto Life"
(1982)
Music video
"Super Freak" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Super Freak" is a 1981 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. "Freak" is a slang term for a very promiscuous girl, as described in the song's lyrics, "She's 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.[3] Nine years later, MC Hammer's 1990 hit "U Can't Touch This" sampled it. The song was nominated for the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 1982 Grammys.[4]

Recording[edit]

"Super Freak" was recorded with other tracks for the Street Songs album between December 1980 - January 1981 at the Record Plant, in Sausalito, California and Motown / Hitsville U.S.A. Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA. It features background vocals from James' Motown labelmates The Temptations—in which the [Bass player] was Greg "Big Money" Brown, Melvin Franklin—and Canadian singer Taborah Johnson. The tenor saxophone solo is by Stone City Band member Daniel LeMelle. James' improvised lyrics were later toned down by Los Angeles DJ Alonso Miller, who received co-writing credit. James apparently was not particularly excited about the song, but reputedly wanted to have something on the album that "white folks could dance to." [5]

Chart performance[edit]

The song was a big hit for James in 1981, charting on the pop, R&B, and dance music charts in the USA. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song peaked at no. 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 no. 1 on the American dance charts earlier that year.