Slick Rick

Slick Rick, eye patch and all.
Slick Rick is one of the few original big name New York City rappers that still has a name today. While he wasn’t born in New York his parents moved from South Wimbledon, England to the Bronx in 1975, when he was only eleven years old. Rick’s first major recording was in 1985 and since then he has had a smattering of successful albums and singles. I remember specifically when I first heard Slick Rick, it was his album “The Ruler’s Back”. I was seventeen years old and driving into NYC to go skateboarding. A buddy of mine had just got the cd and threw it in the stereo of my four door Hyundai Excel GL. Slick Rick was a perfect backdrop to our activities that day and I’ve loved that album ever since.

Slick Rick is one of those quintessential rappers that everyone familiar with the rap scene knows and respects similar to KRS-One from BDP. You can hear samples from his songs and lyrics in many other acts creating today. In some cases his lyrics are even recited verbatim, like a cover song, something relatively rare in the rap scene. He’s had just that strong of an impact in the hip hop community. VH1 even honored him at their Hip Hop Honors show. I gotta say it really cracks me up that VH1 even has a Hip Hop show. I remember back in the day when all VH1 had on it was easy listening type stuff and now they are hosting rap shows? Crazy. Yo! MTV Raps! as memorable as it was, was relegated to the wee hours of the morning during it’s hay day. It goes to show how main stream rap has become that they are even playing it on the old people music station much less hosting awards shows for it.

Slick has had a rough personal life. It all started when Rick was a baby and somehow his eye was cut by a shard of glass, blinding his right eye. He’s had to wear a eye patch ever since. Then in 1990 Slick shot a bystander and his cousin after an argument involving Rick’s mother and an attempted theft. No one was killed but it was a shooting none-the-less. This was at the height of Rick’s popularity, he had just released “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick” one highest regarded rap albums of all time. But after the shooting Rick was sent to jail for a total of 6 years. Despite this he managed to release “The Ruler’s Back” while out on bail and “Behind Bars” was actually recorded during his stay. This wasn’t the end of his bad luck though. In 2002 while performing on a cruise ship Rick was nabbed by the INS who wanted to deport him for the shooting incident a decade earlier. This resulted in Rick spending another 18 months in jail fighting to remain in the states. He eventually won the right to stay and was released to go back to his home in New York.

Currently Slick Rick has four albums to his name. People seem to love his first album so much so that they put down the second and third. Saying that the fourth album “The Art of Storytelling” was the true sequel to his first. And I cannot disagree more. While I do respect the first album “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick”. It’s a great album. The story telling in it is great but I think his later albums are a little more consistent. My favorite is his second the beats in his second are fantastic, original, crisp, concise, not too much bass but a perfect amount and these tracks are a perfect backdrop for his storytelling style of rap. I have similar feelings about his third album “Behind Bars” which I’ve heard others describe as a dud, commercially maybe but it’s a great album in it’s own right. I guess what I’m getting at is all four of albums are worth a listen.

1) The Great Adventures of Slick Rick [1988]
2) The Ruler’s Back [1991]
3) Behind Bars [1994]
4) The Art of Storytelling [1999]

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