If you ever saw the Blassic (Black and classic) movie “Friday,” then you know when Smokey initially attempts to convince Craig to try cannabis, it is done with the 1978 Rick James classic “Mary Jane” in the background.

Outside of this film, written and produced by Ice Cube, “Mary Jane” would become a cultural classic. While this one may be top of the list for many, the funk and R&B singer has many other classics that cemented him as one of the greats. Songs like “You & I,” “Fire And Desire,” and “Give It To Me Baby” can be found on many cookout or family reunion playlists.

To prove that James’ music stands the test of time, his all-time most popular hit from the 80s, “Super Freak,” is being sampled by New York rapper Nicki Minaj. Minaj released her new single, “Super Freaky Girl,” Friday, Aug. 12.

With a range of hits and an undeniable influence on culture, the world was saddened when Rick James passed away in 2004. However, it would not be until several years later that the estate would finally settle disputes surrounding the late singer’s music.

Although Rick James had an estimated $250,000 net worth at the time of his passing, per Celebrity Net Worth, his estate has been busy working to keep his legacy and generational influence alive.

Music Rights

Photo Credit: Raymond Boyd

According to Forbes from 2015, the James estate reached a settlement agreement with Universal Music Group in a class-action suit for $11.5 million after a seven-year battle. Other parties in the case included Chuck D from Public Enemy. There were 14 additional artists in the lawsuit centered around “the difference between buying a single (as people used to do in physical form) versus downloading one from a service like iTunes.”

The lawsuit against Universal was not the only dispute the James estate faced. In 2008, the James Estate settled a lawsuit against California-based Brooklyn Music Publishing Group Inc., based on a report by Today. The suit claimed that the publishing company received money for licensing James’s music without permission.

The Rick James Catalogue

In 2020, the Hipgnosis Songs Fund acquired 50 percent of Rick James’ music catalog, per Music Business Worldwide. The deal included a 50 percent stake in James’ publishing and masters.

“All the while, he was an incredible songwriter, producer, arranger, performer, and artist making iconic songs like ‘Super Freak’ and ‘Give It to Me Baby.’ He’s one of the most sampled and interpolated creators of all time whose works have been turned into huge successes by MC Hammer, Lana Del Ray, and Kendrick Lamar, just to name a few,” Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, was quoted saying.

“We are delighted to welcome his iconic work to the Hipgnosis Family and look forward to working closely with his daughter Ty James and his estate to ensure his legacy shines,” Mercuriadis continued.

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Ty James is the president of her father’s estate. At the time of her father’s passing, she took on the role of president and has worked to preserve her father’s legacy.