So, Charlie Murphy’s coming to Mississippi? Interesting. You see, Charlie may be Eddie Murphy’s brother, but he owes his big cultural moment to the late, great super freak Rick James. And there’s another Rick James, in Mississippi, who has a bone to pick with Mr. Murphy.
In 2003, Murphy’s reoccurring “True Hollywood Stories” sketch on Dave Chappelle’s popular but short-lived cable series introduced the expression “I’m Rick James, bitch” into the public consciousness. By 2005, it was an inescapable catchphrase with unexpected consequences for one Mississippi politician. As it happens, a man named Rick James from Hattiesburg was running for city council that year, and his campaign signs were disappearing as fast as he could plant them. James’ wife Diane even penned a letter to Comedy Central asking for a “small campaign donation” because every rerun of the “Rick James” episode resulted in a dozen more missing yard signs. “Young children on bikes scream, ‘I’m Rick James, bitch!’ as we drive by in our car with our Rick James car signs,” she wrote. “People even drive by our home and scream, ‘Super Freak.’”
Perhaps Murphy could take this opportunity to reach out to James (the politician, not the dead singer) when he brings his act to Horseshoe Casino’s Bluesville stage this weekend, although the brutally frank comedian who called his cable special “I Will Not Apologize” probably won’t. — Chris Davis