See also: Mr. Miranda Spits A Freestyle Over Nicolay's "Tight Eyes" Beat See also: Writer's Guild: Don't Call Mr. Miranda, MC Pennywise, Mega Ran and RoQ'y TyRaiD a "Supergroup" Channeling the late, great funk doctor Rick James takes a lot more than throwing on a wig, and screaming, "I'm Rick James bitch!"
To be fair, the Dave Chappelle/Charlie Murphy skit is funny as shit, but when it comes to honoring James' music it takes a little more style and finesse. James passed away on August 6, 2004, and to mark the occasion Phoenix rapper Mr. Miranda is commemorating the date with the release of a tribute album.
Up on the Sun: So what's the word with the new project you have coming out?
David Miranda: The title of the project is The Super Freak Tape. It's a tribute to Rick James. It's a different type of project, especially coming from a hip-hop artist, you know. Rick was always one of my favorite musicians in general.
Prince is my all-time favorite -- he's damn near my idol, but Rick was right up there as well. He composed everything on his own and played his own instruments. He brought in a lot of different artists like Teena Marie, the Mary Jane Girls -- just like Prince did with Apollonia and Sheila E. So they had some similarities which is why they conflicted with each other.
For this project I really had to go back and do a lot of research because I knew a lot of his material but I didn't know the ins-and-outs and what went down behind closed doors. Like, I didn't even know that he and Prince had beef.
Yeah, I didn't know that.
It was in a competitive spirit.
But yeah, I started doing in-depth research on him and the focus that I wanted was -- to have a range of different producers and I wanted to capture a lot of the sounds and samples of certain tracks. But I didn't want it be his known hits like "Super Freak" and "Mary Jane." I wanted the album fillers, the more obscure tracks. So that's what we did.
I just saw that when Michael Jackson died, every DJ had a tribute tape and I just noticed that nobody really did anything for Rick James when he passed away. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to focus on an artist's lifestyle and drag away from focusing on the artistry. But this guy was beyond talented and a musical genius. It's a pretty conceptual project. For example, there's a record on the release called, "Go James" and it features my friend Simone Hines out of New Jersey. She's singing on the record and I'm pretty much speaking to him [James] and about him at the same time. I relay the facts and the accolades of everything he did when he was alive and all of the good that he did do.
"Rick's Story" features my Writer's Guild affiliate RoQ'y TyRaid. Just as an example of where we're going with this: I'm Rick. He's God [laughs]. So the first verse is me pouring my heart out [as Rick] , so that's where the research came through. I show sorrrow and regret about some of the things that I did throughout my lifetime. When RoQ'y comes in he's stating you need to man up and be proud of the things you did do and start noticing that. [As God] he says, "I forgive you."
And the third verse is me understanding that. It's really interesting. On that record we sampled, "Fire and Desire."
Where did you find the information you needed for your research?
I started with his discography, starting with his first album, as well as online sources. Just listening to everything and studying him through his music and seeing his growth as an artist. I went through a lot of his old material and I was just amazed. I sat there and was just like, "Damn, this guy was a genius."
When it comes to legends like that, the music is really timeless regardless of what generation you are, or when you grew up.
Yeah, I mean this was decades ago.
Right. For me, it's my dad's music.
Same here. I didn't necessarily grow up on it but at the same time I did. My mom was really big into soul. She was the one who put me into Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan. And my stepfather was really into the old soul. Stuff like The Intruders and Rick James and The Spinners. So I had the best of both worlds with them. So I grew up with that playing in the house. And my mom and my grandmother played Spanish music, too.
I can totally relate, man. So after all the research, how did you find your inner Rick James voice?
That was just listening to him. I tried to do my best impersonation [laughs]. It took a few takes, I'll say that. But I just went off of his interviews, and his voice on tracks; just talking and not singing. So just listening to him. He had that real rhythmic voice even when he was speaking. He was just cool. So I tried to combine the two and just did the best I could. I put myself in his shoes. Like if he had one more chance, this is what he would say.
Nice. So what made this the right time to release this project? Why now?
To be completely honest, this was supposed to come out two years ago. It's been done for the most part but we had a couple things that needed to be polished. But everyone just had different schedules.
I'm the type that can't sit still. If I'm sittin' still for too long I get bored. So I'm constantly doing something. And then we formed Writer's Guild so I've just been trying to balance everything. August 6 is his death date so I just told myself this would be perfect, so we just did it. I'm going to release it on my Bandcamp page first, and then I'm going to press up physical copies. I had a lot of fun with it.