There are few names in Hip Hop that truly made the everlasting impact. 2Pac’s never-ending flow, Big L’s elaborate lyricism, Rakim’s unorthodox rhyming all had their unforgettable effects. When it comes to storytelling, the number one name that comes up is Slick Rick. The Ruler, Ricky D, the creator of some of the most renowned Hip Hop classics, this man has been rapping since the late 70s and recording tracks since the 80’s. Coming to the US from UK at the age of 10 he found a home in the Bronx right away. The birthplace of Hip Hop served him right. First getting help from B-Weezy he then formed an act with Doug E. Fresh. La Di Da Di was their first hit together. Mona Lisa, Teenage Love and Children’s Story followed soon after. The music industry famous for sampling made sure to take note of all of those. Children’s Story alone has been covered by performers all over the world in various music genres, from Bjork to Everlast and even got featured in a video game.
Unfortunately Rick has had more than a fair share of troubles with the law. At first, spending 5 years in jail for shooting 2 people (self-defense), he simply failed to enjoy the labors of his Platinum album. That was only the beginning thou. After 9/11 the nice folks over at the Homeland Security decided to deport every foreigner with a violent record. Rick was no exception. Only instead of deporting him, he was held in jail with no bail and no charge for 17 months.
Despite being jailed for a cumulative of over 6 years, he managed to put out 4 albums. One of them came out from behind bars. It wasn’t the number of albums he put out thou. It wasn’t the messages he passed on. Rick is a piece of Hip Hop history. Not only that, but unlike some of the other Hip Hop ‘old school’ icons like Melle Mel or Grandmaster Kaz, he constantly puts on performances in his home town, New York.
His current shows are well-known for ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ Hip Hop comparisons. First he plays a classic track and then follows it through with a recent club banger. The audience is the judge. Hey, as he says himself: “I can’t loose here. This shit’s fixed.” The crowd gathered to hear that real sound of Hip Hop will rock to the music of the Hip Hop legends and will laugh when a commercial track hits the air.
His upbeat personality, flashy fun presentation and smiles get him fans on the personal front. Then his classics, his unmatched storytelling skills and his freestyles do the rest. Fans come to see a piece of history and end up simply having a good time. Just like it was back in the day, when the turntables were hooked up to the light posts, if you did have one; people party, laugh and enjoy their night.
WNT caught up to Rick during his last concert at the Knitting Factory, where he spoke about the Hip Hop movement of today, his legal predicaments and his next album.