“Once upon a time not long ago….”
Adorned with tons and tons of gold jewelry and an eye patch that appropriately covered his right eye, Slick Rick was unlike anything that the hip-hop community had ever seen before. His British-laced accent and narrative flow also made him unlike anything hip-hop had ever heard before. The man that I like to refer to affectionately as “Uncle Ricky” was one of the greatest storytellers of our time. When Slick Rick rhymed over a track, you were able to vividly picture the sequence of events in your head as they happened. Whether he left a heartbroken “Mona Lisa” crying on the sidewalk or introduced us to “Dave the dope fiend” on the classic cut “A Children’s Story”, his smooth voice, British accent, and fine attention to detail could draw you in for hours!
Slick Rick was born Richard Walters on January 14, 1965 in London, England. Blinded by broken glass as an infant, Rick started wearing his signature eye patch at an early age. In 1975, his family moved to the Bronx where he met future rapper Dana Dane. Slick Rick and Dana Dane later formed a hip hop duo known as the Kangol Crew and the two performed in rap battles around the city. It was at one of these rap battles that Slick Rick met “the human beat box” Doug E. Fresh.
Slick Rick later joined Doug E’s “Get Fresh Crew” alongside Chill Will and Barry Bee, performing under the name of “MC Ricky D.” In 1985, Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew released the explosive single, “The Show,” which was followed by “La Di Da Di.” Slick Rick’s infectious rhyme style over Doug E. Fresh’s beat box proved to be the perfect ingredient to launch him into super stardom. In 1986, he signed a solo contract with the biggest label in hip-hop at the time: Def Jam Records.
When his debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick was released in 1988, it didn’t take long for it to reach the #1 spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart and become a certified-platinum classic. With memorable cuts like “Hey Young World” and “Teenage Love”, Slick Rick dropped jewels of knowledge in the form of raps. He was criticized for his misogynistic lyrics on tracks such as “Treat Her Like A Prostitute,” but it still became an underground hit for the artist.
With the wave of success that Slick Rick was experiencing, it seemed as if nothing stop him from reaching the top. However, in 1990, the rapper was indicted on two counts of attempted murder and began a battle with the Immigration and Naturalization Services over his US residency. Before serving 5 years in prison. Slick Rick recorded his sophomore album, The Ruler’s Back, which included the moderate hits “I Shouldn’t Have Done It” and “It’s A Boy.” His third studio album, Behind Bars was released in 1994 while the rapper was still incarcerated. This album included the memorable track “Sittin‘ In My Car.”
After being released from prison in 1996, Slick Rick continued his legal battle with the Immigration and Naturalization Services. He released the classic comeback album, The Art of Storytelling that included collaborations with Nas, Outkast, and Snoop Dogg in 1999. Since 2001, there have been numerous attempts to have the singer deported. However, on May 23, 2008, New York Gov. David Paterson granted Slick Rick a full and unconditional pardon on the attempted murder charges. He was praised for his good behavior and willingness to mentor youths about violence. While he still is not completely in the clear of deportation, the chances of having that happen now are looking a little slim. That’s indeed good news for Slick Rick, his family, and all of his fans. To us, Slick Rick is a living legend and that is something that NO ONE can take that away from him!
Slick Rick – A Children’s Story
Slick Rick – A Teenage Love
Slick Rick – Hey Young World
Slick Rick – Street Talkin’ ft. OutKast
For more information on Slick Rick, be sure to visit http://www.ricktheruler.net/
Image Layout: Katrina
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