“Give It To Me Baby” by Rick James (1981)

“Give It To Me Baby” is a monster, a classic Rick James party jam. It starts off with a thunderous bass before launching into a whomping funk groove. The King of Punk Funk is in full “I’m Rick James, bitch!” mode here, bellowing “I’ll make you holler you’ve had enough!” However, considering the preceding lyrics find Rick in a state of, shall we say, altered consciousness, I’m wondering if his lady’s “I’ve had enough” is more of a “get off me, you drunk motherfucker!” than “stop! It’s too good!”

I was reading an oral history of Rick’s Street Songs (the album that housed “Give It To Me Baby” in Wax Poetics years ago, and I remember whichever buddy of Rick’s that was hanging in the studio saying that ever since she appeared on “Give It To Me Baby”, people referred to her as the “Say What?” girl. Not to bust anyone’s bubble, but lady, I don’t think anyone remembers you as the person who said (not sung) one line on a song unless you mention it yourself. Also worth noting, said “say what?” line was essentially pilfered from Instant Funk’s “I Got My Mind Made Up”, which was a huge hit before “Give It To Me Baby”’s release.

Because pilfering is as pilfering does, that thunderous bassline that opens “Give It To Me Baby” was inverted ever-so-slightly and placed by Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton on the title track to the biggest selling album of all time-Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

As much of a monster as “Give It To Me Baby” was, it peaked at a middling #40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1981 (although it spent more than a month at the top of the R&B charts). What in the white people was going on there?

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