From icon to criminal to “I’m Rick James, bitch,” the complicated legacy of the “Super Freak” singer goes under the microscope in the new Showtime documentary Bitchin’: The Sound and Fury of Rick James.
Directed by Emmy nominee Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men), Bitchin’ will premiere on Friday, September 3rd. Most of the newly revealed first trailer focuses on the more likable aspects of the man born James Johnson, Jr.: his charisma, his activism, and his irresistible songwriting. But there are also hints of what one person calls the “demon… That was drug-possessed James Johnson.” This is in reference to multiple accusations of sexual assault, as well as his 1993 conviction for kidnapping and torturing two separate women under the influence of crack cocaine, for which he served three years in jail. Check out the trailer below.
Now 17 years removed from his death, Rick James is back in the zeitgeist. Besides Bitchin’, a scripted limited series called Super Freak is currently in the works. Last year, a woman sued James’ estate over an alleged rape in 1979, but the case was later dismissed with prejudice.