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Rick James, R.I.P.

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If Los Angeles is the city where stars are made and dreams realized, sadly it’s also where many talented individuals meet their untimely fate. Rick James died this morning at his home in the Universal City area as a result of “existing medical conditions.” The man embodied the glam of the post-disco transition era, and L.A. was the place to live it up. His decadence and distinctive personal style rounded out a run of fantastic hits. James’s death is an unfortunate end to his great yet sagging career and troubled life. The last decade-plus found James plagued with health problems and infamous run-ins with the law, including two years in Folsom Prison.

For us kids who grew up in the 80s, his tunes and beats helped us learn to dance while the grown ups could enjoy the abundance of double entendres that escaped our comprehension. The next generation was introduced to Rick via M.C. Hammer’s sampling of James’s biggest hit “Super Freak,” to which LAist says: better late than never. And Rick James continues to provide pop culture with awesome material used for unexpected purposes. Sounds bites from Dave Chappelle’s brilliant comic salute to the legacy of Rick James has recently become one of the most widely-quoted bits around; the timing of this trend has now proven to be uncanny.