Now-a-days in the world of Hip Hop, there are discussions about Rap’s ‘heavy hitters’. People name drop artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Chance The Rapper but many forget the iconic artists of the past. Those who do talk about historic artists fail to go past the age of 2PAC, overlooking many who laid out the blueprint for rap. So let’s focus on one of those historical iconic rappers, Slick Rick.
No one is credited with telling a better story lyrically than Slick Rick. He is known as the Hip Hop’s Greates Storyteller and said to have been the biggest influence for the narrative in Hip Hop. While many rappers have a bullet point type narrative, jumping from point to point, while Rick stuck with a story from start to end. Due to this style, along with his accent and cadence, Slick Rick was very original in the ‘Golden Era of Hip Hop’. Heres’s the story of the storyteller.
Born and raised in 1965 south-west London Ricky Martin Lloyd Walters, Slick Rick, was blinded in his right eye as a child. At 12 years old his family immigrated to the Bronx. After a number of performances at school contests and clubs under the name MC Rick D, his melodic-storytelling style was discovered by Doug E. Fresh in 1983 and he was asked to join Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew. Both Dough E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s stardom came when Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew released the internationally successful 12″ single with “The Show” A-side and “La Di Da Di” B-side.
In 1986 Slick Rick joined became the third artist to join Def Jam Records, releasing his debut album The Adventures of Slick Rick in 1988. Known for its storytelling, singsong cadence, and unique vocalization, the album topped the Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop chart’s at #1 upon its release. It has recently been announced that the most iconic song of the album “Children’s Story” will be getting turned into a real children’s book.
In 1990, after attempts of extortion from cousin turned bodyguard Mark Plummer was fired, Mark in turn threatened to kill Rick and his mother. This led to a chain of events resulting in Rick shooting and injuring Mark and a bystander along with a five year prison-sentence for attempted murder and immigration residency issues.
His second album, released in 1991 while on bail, and third album, released in 1994 while in prison, we’re not as successful as his debut album. It wasn’t until after his release in 1997 that Slick Rick found success. The Art of Storytelling, his fourth album, was released in 1999 and returned Slick Rick to Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop #1 spot.
From 2001 to 2008 Rick faced immigration problems due to the attempted murder case but was pardoned due to his philanthropy. He married, had two children, and is living with dual citizenship.
Sources: allmusic, ricktheruler, huffingtonpost, wiki