'Bitchin': The Sound and Fury of Rick James' Trailer Shows Us Why he's Rick James, Bitch
Hide your couch, because there’s a Rick James documentary about to be loosed on the world. Showtime has released a trailer for Bitching: The Sound and Fury of Rick James, directed by Sacha Jenkins.
Looking Back at a Legend
Jenkins, best known for directing the Showtime docuseries Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, directed this intimate look at one of rock, funk, and R&B’s biggest legends. The doc features rare footage from James’ live shows, never-before-seen video footage, new interviews with performers, collaborators, and friends, and a “treasure trove” of recorded interviews with James. (The singer died in 2004.) The film screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in June and will premiere on Friday, September 3 on Showtime.
The documentary presents both the good and the bad in James’ tumultuous life. He was best known as the creator of “punk-funk” hits like “Superfreak”, “Give it to Me Baby”, and “Mary Jane”. He was a cultural phenomenon in the ’70s and 80s, working with performers like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Nile Rodgers, Eddie Murphy, Teena Marie, The Mary Jane Girls, and M.C. Hammer. James was also infamous for his rampant drug use, disregard for the law, and increasingly bad decisions. The documentary doesn’t shy away from the fact that James was convicted of sexual assault, false imprisonment, and kidnapping during the height of his crack cocaine-fueled excess. (He served two years of his five-year sentence at Folsom Prison before being released in 1996.)
James returned to the spotlight after years away in 2004 with an appearance on The Chappelle Show. On the now-legendary sketch “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories”, Murphy and James recounted some of their wildest stories from the early ’80s. The sketch spawned numerous catchphrases, including “Cocaine is a hell of a drug!”, “F*ck your couch!”, and “I’m Rick James, bitch!” The sketch spawned a resurgence in his popularity and he did a couple of live performances before retiring from the spotlight entirely later that year.
Bitchin’ presents as complete a picture of James’ life as possible, told by those who knew him. It will probably feature some pretty wild stories, but I can almost guarantee some of it’s going to be a tough watch. James was a complex figure who lived an intense, drug-fueled life, and his legacy can’t be denied.
Bitchin’: The Sound and the Fury of Rick James premieres September 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.
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