13 April 2011

Pioneer Series: Slick Rick


"La di da di..." *kick drum* "La di da di..." *kick drum* "La di...da di!"

Thus begins one of the most recognized and classic songs in hip-hop. Slick Rick the Ruler aka MC Ricky D is one of the most recognized voices in the golden age of hip-hop. I have a lot of favorites, but Slick Rick has always been near the top of my list. His style, his humor and his ability to tell a story with ease has always made him one of my personal God MCs. Ricky was never one to glorify "gangsta rap" or the joys of street life, but he always managed to throw a lesson into almost any song he made and there was always entertainment in his lyrics.

He is widely respected around the genre and is known as the father of the story. His ability to make even the smallest nuance of a story seem important or to change his voice to signify a character without seeming like a joke have served him well. "Childrens Story," arguably his largest hit, is a classic example of his ability to involve the listener in what's going on and maintain an entertaining line of aural thought.

His words have always flowed easily off of the listener's tongue, easy to memorize and easier to love. He has been featured on many songs with such distinguished artists like Nas, Outkast, Dana Dane and Doug E. Fresh. His own albums have been critical successes as well, with one album being RIAA certified gold and another going platinum.

Unfortunately, however, and as is too typical of our society and genre, Slick Rick has been met with his fair share of legal troubles. Unbeknownst to many fans, Richard Walters (the name he was given at birth), was born in London in 1965. The Immigration and Naturalization Service attempted to deport Slick Rick in 2001 in reference to a law that had been passed in the U.S. concerning foreigners with violent felonies. The felonies in question were a couple of attempted murder charges in 1990 that he had plead guilty to, for which he spent five years in prison. In reference to the deportation attempts of the INS, Rick the Ruler spent 17 months in prison while continuously being refused bail.

Nearly three years later, the INS once again attempted to deport our master storyteller, with the case being thrown around the country from New York to Atlanta. While it was expected to go to Florida, then governor of New York David Paterson cleared Uncle Ricky of the attempted murder charges from almost two decades ago, effectively clearing his name with the INS. I can only imagine how upset they were. Hip hop fans rejoiced, however, as Slick Rick has since been able to continue to call the United States his home.

Slick Rick has been featured on many songs and albums and continues to delight hip hop heads and new rap fans alike with his playful yet sincere tone, light hearted banter and skills with the lyrical word. Although it has been over a decade since he has released an album, Rick says he is just being patient and waiting for a mature audience. He truly is a pioneer of the genre and I'm glad to be a fan and I can't wait for him to tell us another story.

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