Showtime has landed the rights to the documentary on funk legend Rick James who dominated the charts in the early ’80s with hits like “Super Freak” and “Mary Jane.” The documentary, B——n’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James, was directed by Sacha Jenkins and delves deep into the life of the man born James Ambrose Johnson Jr. in Buffalo, New York, who lived the life of true rock ’n’ roll superstar. The project explores his musical highs as well as his lows, which included battles with drugs and a prison stint.
The film features rare performance footage, never-before-seen home video, original interviews with legendary artists, collaborators and friends, including fellow funk legend Bootsy Collins and music critique Steven Ivory.
“This film is yet another striking work from Sacha, as he continues to document and contextualize the most iconic figures and events that have shaped the contemporary Black experience in America,” Showtime’s nonfiction programming chief Vinnie Malhotra told the New York Daily News in a statement. “In this case, he’s really gone deep to illuminate the artist beyond the headlines and show the musically groundbreaking path of Rick James, without shying away from the painful and difficult demons he battled throughout.”
Jenkins premiered the film at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this month and also pointed out that many people know James because of the skits on Dave Chappelle’s “Chappelle’s Show,” but his legacy is far greater than that.
“The ‘wild’ side of Rick James often eclipses his musical genius, but the mathematical equation that is his life depends on all of the numbers to make a whole,” Jenkins added in the statement. “Our aim was to create a balanced portrait of a brilliant artist who both chased his dreams and stalked more than a few demons. Still, his influence on funk and popular music and culture is unparalleled, and his eventual rise to the top is easily more compelling than any freebase rush.”
Check out the trailer to B—–n’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James on the following page.