Jheri Curl June: Calloway’s “I Wanna Be Rich”

Jheri Curl June: Calloway’s “I Wanna Be Rich”

Well, folks, they say all good things must come to an end, and sadly, that applies to Jheri Curl June as well. But we want to go out on a high note, and so here’s one of my favorite late-period jheri curl tracks: Calloway’s “I Wanna Be Rich.”

Calloway was of course the solo–or, erm, duo–project of Reggie and Vincent Calloway, founding members of Midnight Star and the brothers who brought us not one, not two, but three separate Jheri Curl June tracks. “I Wanna Be Rich” comes from Calloway’s debut album All the Way, recorded after the brothers left Midnight Star in 1989. Indeed, its songwriting credits betray the fact that it started life as a Star song, written but not recorded in 1983 by the brothers Calloway, Belinda Lipscomb, and Melvin “McArthur” Gentry.

Along with its perky jheri-curl arrangement–already something of a throwback in 1989–“I Wanna Be Rich” is mainly distinguished by its naked materialism: as Reggie announces at the beginning of the track, the song is all about “cash…cold, that’s what I need.” But it’s okay, because if you watch the video, you’ll see that it’s really about the struggle: just look at the Calloway brothers in their scantly-furnished living room, ironing shirts and lifting free weights for some reason and receiving repossession notices and trying to write their next big hit. They’re working schlubs like the rest of us…they just have way more luxurious jheri curls. Yes, their apparent poverty has clearly not affected their hair care budget; but, in his defense, Vincent appears to have spent so much maintaining his jheri curl that he can no longer afford a shirt. Sometimes you have to suffer to look this good.

Unfortunately, the superior original version of “I Wanna Be Rich” is not available on Spotify. But we are able to add the 2013 re-recording–made presumably because the Calloway brothers meant what they said and wanted a bigger chunk of the royalties–which sounds surprisingly authentic, considering the fact that it was recorded 24 years later. Their voices may be a bit deeper with age, but by the time they hit that chorus–“I want money, lots and lots of money”–I doubt you’ll notice.

And with that, we bring our second Jheri Curl June to a close. We’ll be back next summer with more of the wettest, silkiest ’80s R&B we can find; and, hopefully, sooner than that with more of our regularly scheduled programming. Happy Jheri Curl June!

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