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Slick Rick

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  • Born: London, England
  • Years Active: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


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Slick Rick foreshadowed and epitomized the pimpster attitude of many rappers during the late '80s and early '90s, with gold chains, his trademark eye-patch, and recordings that were no less misogynistic -- "Treat Her Like a Prostitute," for example, became an underground hit in 1988, though it was justly criticized for its view of women. His 1989 album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, was a certified-platinum classic, but before he could record a follow-up, Slick Rick was arrested for attempted murder. Out on bail thanks to Def Jam Records' label head Russell Simmons, Rick recorded The Ruler's Back in three weeks and released the album in 1991. After his release from prison two years later, he recorded Behind Bars for a 1994 release.

Born to Jamaican parents in South Wimbledon, London, on January 14, 1965, Ricky Walters was blinded by broken glass as an infant and took to wearing an eyepatch from an early age. He emigrated with his family to the Bronx in the late '70s and attended the La Guardia High School of Music & Art, where he became friends with future rapper Dana Dane. The two formed the Kangol Crew, and began performing in hip-hop battles around the city. At one 1984 battle in the Bronx, Rick met Doug E. Fresh, and began playing with his Get Fresh Crew (which also included Chill Will and Barry Bee). Fresh's number four R&B hit, "The Show," exploded just one year later, and MC Ricky D. -- as Rick was then known -- leaped to a solo contract two years later, after an acquaintance with Russell Simmons led to his signing to Def Jam Records, the biggest label in hip-hop at the time.

Slick Rick recorded his debut record, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, and released the album in 1988. "Treat Her like a Prostitute" became a sensation on the streets but R&B radio stations were understandably reluctant to play the track; instead, they pushed his duet with Al B. Sure!, "If I'm Not Your Lover," and it made number two in 1989. "Children's Story" hit the R&B Top Five that same year, but early in 1990, Slick Rick was arrested after shooting at his cousin -- who allegedly harassed Rick's mother -- and leading police on a high-speed cruise. Before his sentencing, 21 songs were recorded and hastily released as The Ruler's Back. The album failed to move at all, though Rick's confession track "I Shouldn't Have Done It" scraped the R&B charts later in 1991. Featured in the rap documentary The Show (released in 1995) -- in a segment where Russell Simmons actually visits the prison -- Slick Rick was released on a work program in 1996, although his Behind Bars album appeared in 1994. Art of Storytelling was issued in 1999, an artistically successful comeback that paired him with MC's like Outkast and Snoop Dogg but did more the emphasize his talents as a solo artist.

While performing live on a Florida cruise ship in the summer of 2002, INS officials seized the rapper and brought him to a prison. Although the organization had unsuccessfully been trying to deport Rick since 1991, they finally appealed enough times to get the Board of Immigration Appeals to make a ruling in favor of sending him back to England. Although his wife, children, and parents are all American citizens, the fact that Rick was born in England is enough of a technicality to warrant his deportation. The situation was even more frustrating because of the INS's insistance on deporting the rapper, spending more than ten years trying to send him back despite the ridiculous circumstances surrounding the situation. His parents had lived in London because of their job situation, and moved him back to the United States at the age of 11. He had never bothered to change his citizenship because of the young age at which he had been relocated. Held in prison through the end of the year, famous friends like Russell Simmons and Will Smith attempted to help his cause but he was continually refused bail.


For the slightly older American rapper also known as "Slick Rick", see Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three."Rick the Ruler" redirects here. For the St. Louis-based hiphop artist, see Rick tha Rular.

Ricky Walters (born 14 January 1965), better known by his stage name Slick Rick, is a Grammy-nominated English-born rapper. He has also been known as Rick the Ruler, MC Ricky D, and Ricky Dee. He began his career in late 1983, in the hip hop genre, where he recorded a series of acclaimed recordings such as "La Di Da Di" and "Children's Story". He is known for the use of narrative in his raps and has been called "hip hop's greatest storyteller."

Slick Rick rose to stardom in an era known to fans as the Golden age of hip hop. His music has been frequently sampled and interpolated by other artists such as TLC, Black Star, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, and Color Me Badd, with many of these songs later becoming hit singles. About.com ranked him #12 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time, while The Source ranked him #15 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.

^ David Drake, Insanul Ahmed (October 19, 2012). "The 30 Biggest Criminal Trials in Rap History: The People of the State of New York v. Richard Walters (1990)". Complex. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r28266^ http://rap.about.com/od/toppicks/ss/Top50Emcees_8.htm^ "The Source's Top 50 Lyricists Of All Time ," thisis50.com, July 7, 2012.

Early life[edit]

Walters was born and raised in the south-west London district of Mitcham, to an English Jamaican family. He was blinded in the right eye by broken glass as an infant, and has worn an eyepatch ever since. He and his family moved to The Bronx in 1976. As a child, he met Dana Dane, with whom he later formed a hip hop duo known as the Kangol Crew.

^ Bush, John. "Slick Rick Biography". allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 2008-05-24. ^ David Gonzalez, "At 50, a Hip-Hop Pioneer Still Has Stories to Tell," New York Times, February 8, 2015.

Initial fame[edit]

Walters first gained success in the rap industry after joining Doug E. Fresh's Get Fresh Crew, using the stage name MC Ricky D. He was featured on the single "The Show" and its even more popular B-side, "La Di Da Di". La Di Da Di featured Walters' rapping over Doug E. Fresh's beatbox. Both tracks gained some mainstream attention, they appeared on Top of the Pops and Soul Train with Fresh's Get Fresh Crew. In 1988 Walters' solo debut The Great Adventures of Slick Rick came out on Def Jam Records. The album was very successful, reaching the #1 spot on Billboard‍ '​s R&B/Hip-Hop chart. It also featured three charting singles: "Children's Story", "Hey Young World", and "Teenage Love".

Incarceration and subsequent albums[edit]

In 1990, Walters shot his cousin, Mark Plummer, and a bystander. Plummer had previously been Walters' bodyguard and later admitted to having Walters shot outside a club. Walters was indicted on two counts of attempted murder and pled guilty to all charges, which included assault, use of a firearm, and criminal possession of a weapon. He spent five years in prison, two for the then second degree attempted murder charges he received for the shooting, and three for his struggle with the Immigration and Naturalization Services over his residency in the US. He was released from prison in 1997.

After being bailed out by Russell Simmons, Walters recorded his second album, The Ruler's Back, released in 1991. The album received mixed reviews and wasn't as commercially successful as his debut. In the documentary film, The Show, Russell Simmons interviewed Walters while he was imprisoned on Rikers Island.

Walters' third studio album Behind Bars was released in 1994, while he was still incarcerated. It was met with lukewarm sales and reviews. He was released from prison in 1996.

Walters remained with the Def Jam label, and on May 25, 1999, released a fourth album entitled The Art of Storytelling. Generally considered the authentic follow up to his 1988 debut, The Art of Storytelling was an artistically successful comeback album that paired him with prolific MCs like Nas, OutKast, Raekwon, and Snoop Dogg among others.

After performing on a Caribbean cruise ship in June 2001, Walters was arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) as he re-entered the United States through Florida. He was promptly told that he was being deported under a law allowing deportation of foreigners convicted of felonies. Rick was continuously refused bail, but after 17 months in prison he was released on November 7, 2003. In October 2006, the Department of Homeland Security began a new attempt to deport Walters back to England, moving the case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit based in New York to the more conservative Eleventh Circuit. The court is based in Atlanta, Georgia but the trial was expected to proceed in Florida, where immigration agents originally arrested Walters.

On May 23, 2008, New York Governor David Paterson granted Slick Rick a full and unconditional pardon on the attempted murder charges. The governor was pleased with his behavior since the mishap. Slick Rick has volunteered his time to mentor kids about violence.

^ Sewell Chan, "Governor Pardons Hip-Hop Pioneer," New York Times, May 23, 2008.^ "Slick Rick Interview". "The Show". youtube.com. Retrieved 2012-03-18. ^ Associated Press (2003-11-04). "Slick Rick regains legal status". CNN.com. Cable News Network LP. Archived from the original on December 6, 2007. Retrieved 20 05-24.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)^ Patel, Joseph (2003-11-07). "The Great Adventures Can Resume: Slick Rick Is A Free Man". MTV.com. Retrieved 2008-05-24. ^ Jeffries, Alexis (18 October 2006). "Slick Rick Facing Deportation, Again". Vibe. Vibe Media Group, Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-24. ^ Associated Press (23 May 2008). "Hip-hop pioneer 'Slick Rick' pardoned". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 

Later career and life[edit]

Slick Rick and the Soul Rebels Brass Band collaborated on June 21, 2012 in Washington, D.C. at the historic Howard Theatre which re-opened in April 2012.

He and his wife have donated about a dozen items from his collection to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

^ "Soul Rebels at the Howard Theatre". Retrieved 7 April 2012. ^ Cite error: The named reference dgonzalez was invoked but never defined (see the help page).


Slick Rick's songs, especially his best-known songs "La Di Da Di" and "Children's Story", have been covered, referenced and sampled by numerous rappers. "La Di Da Di" was covered nearly word-for-word by Snoop Dogg on his 1993 album Doggystyle. It has also been sampled and interpolated on numerous other songs, including as the chorus of the Notorious B.I.G. hit "Hypnotize".

"Children's Story" has been covered by rapper Everlast on his album Eat at Whitey's, by MC duo Black Star on their 1998 album Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, by Tricky on the album Nearly God with the rap performed by Martina Topley-Bird, and by Israeli rapper Sagol 59 on the album The Two Sides of Sagol 59. Rapper The Game recorded a similar song, "Compton Story". The song has also been referenced and interpolated by numerous artists, including Montell Jordan for his 1995 hit, "This Is How We Do It".


On October 6, 2008, Rick was honoured on the VH1 Hip Hop Honors show.

Rapping style[edit]

Slick Rick's style is commended by music critics. Music journalist Peter Shapiro says, "'Children's Story' was important because of its narrative structure and Rick's understanding of how crucial little sonic details—such as his use of a female voice and his yawning rap—were to hip hop style."

He is largely known for his story raps, such as 'Children's Story' and 'La Di Da Di'. Shapiro writes that he "largely introduced the art of narrative into hip hop… none of the spinners of picaresque rhymes who followed did it with the same grace or humor." AllMusic states that he has the "reputation as hip hop's greatest storyteller." In the book Check the Technique, Slick Rick says, "I was never the type to say freestyle raps, I usually tell a story, and to do that well I've always had to work things out beforehand." Kool Moe Dee comments, "Slick Rick raised the lost art of hip hop storytelling to a level never seen again." Devin the Dude notes that Slick Rick's 'Indian Girl' is a good example of the type of humor that existed in hip hop's golden era, and Peter Shapiro says that "he was funnier than Rudy Ray Moore or Redd Foxx."

Slick Rick uses very clear enunciation and raps with the "Queen's English". O.C. states: "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick is one of the greatest albums ever… the stuff he was just saying on there, it was so clear… the [clear] syllable dude was Slick Rick for me". He is also renowned for his unique "smooth, British-tinged flow" which contains distinct structures. In the book How to Rap, it is noted that on the song 'I Own America', he "puts a rest on almost every other 1 beat so that each set of two lines begins with a rest." Kool Moe Dee stated that, "Rick accomplished being totally original at a time when most MCs were using very similar cadences." He has what is described as "singsong cadences"; Andy Cat of Ugly Duckling mentions that Slick Rick uses a melodic delivery on the track 'Hey Young World'. Slick Rick is also known to extensively use punch ins, especially in his story rhymes as different characters; Kool Moe Dee says Rick used "multi-voices to portray multiple characters."

^ Shapiro, Peter. The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition, Penguin, 2005, p.336.^ Shapiro, Peter, 2005, The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition, Penguin, p. 337.^ Cite error: The named reference ReferenceA was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Coleman, Brian. Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard/Random House, 2007, p. 319.^ Kool Moe Dee. There's A God On The Mic: The True 50 Greatest MCs, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003, p.63.^ Edwards, Paul. How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, 2009, p. 39.^ Edwards, Paul, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, 2009, p. 244.^ Edwards, Paul, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, 2009, p. 129.^ Kool Moe Dee. There's A God On The Mic: The True 50 Greatest MCs, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003, p.64.^ Edwards, Paul. How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, 2009, p. 253.^ Edwards, Paul. How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, 2009, p. 276.

References in popular culture[edit]

Slick Rick has been referenced in numerous songs:

2Pac references Slick Rick in his song "Old School": "...When Slick Rick was spittin La-Di-Da-Di..."The Big Sean song "Mula" when French Montana says: "ain't nothing more important than the mula / diamond rings, hundred chains, slick rick the rula!"The D12 video from their mixtape, Return of the Dozen Volume 2, where Bizarre raps in the track "Outro": "...patch on my eye, I'm the new Slick Rick".In the KRS-One song "Splash": "...the first time you learned to spit, it was either me, Kane, Rakim or Slick Rick."In the Keri Hilson song Knock You Down, Kanye West raps: "Hey young world, I'm the new Slick Rick/They say I move too quick..."In the Amy Winehouse song "Me and Mr Jones", Winehouse sings: "You made me miss the Slick Rick gig..."In the R.A. the Rugged Man song "Supa", R.A. raps: "...specifically wordplay slick tricky, I'm slicker than Slick Ricky"In the Kanye West song "Touch the Sky" Kanye West raps: "Back when Slick Rick got the shit to pop"In the dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip song "Development" Pip raps "KRS is my teacher, Slick Rick's my ruler, Chuck D's my preacher, I'm just a pre-schooler".In the Lauryn Hill song "Every Ghetto, Every City", Hill sings "Back when Doug Fresh and Slick Rick were together"In the Wyclef Jean song "Industry," Wyclef raps: "Imagine Slick Rick not gettin deported"In the CunninLynguists song "Old School" Deacon the Villain raps: "Before [...] Slick Rick had his rings"In the Insane Clown Posse song "Fearless" features the lyrics: "...I'll sneak up to Slick Rick, and snatch off his eyepatch..."In the Gorillaz, Andre 3000, & James Murphy song "DoYaThing" where Andre repeats: "...Is you really Slick Rick? No, you Dana Dane."In the Clipse song Grindin', Pusha T Raps "With one eye closed I hit you/As if I was Slick Rick my aim is still at issue."In the Lil Wayne song "My Homies Still", Lil Wayne raps "...and before I fuck this bitch, I gotta put that patch over my third eye, Slick Rick."In the Lil Ugly Mane song "Slick Rick", Lil Ugly Mane raps "...Slick Rick said treat 'em like a prostitute"In the The Roots song "Mellow My Man", Black Thought raps "... La Di Da Di, who likes to party, like Slick Rick the Ruler I'm cooler than a ice brick."In the Kreayshawn song "The Ruler", raps: "So much gold around my neck, they callin me Slick Rick the RulerIn the Nas song Loco-Motive on his album Life Is Good ""In My Truck, Play the Greatest Adventures of Slick Rick Buggin' on how his imagination was so sick"In the Jay-Z song "Jigga My Nigga", Jay-Z raps "Jigga been dope since Slick Rick's first chain."In the Chip song "Slick Rick", "Oh shit, I think I'm Slick Rick" on his mixtape London Boy.In the Pitbull and Christina Aguilera song "Feel This Moment," Pitbull raps: "And made him slicker than Slick Rick the Ruler"In the Macklemore song "Gold", Macklemore raps "Slick Rick Gold, row fun, hella cold."In the M.I.A. (artist) song "Bring The Noize", she raps "I'm a overweight, heavyweight, female Slick Rick"In the Nas song "Let Nas Down (Remix)", he raps "Slick Rick was like Jesus, (Kool) G Rap wrote the Bible"In the Funkoars song "Meet The Family", Sketchy Hons raps "The 'Oars and Pegasus connect like Slick Rick and necklaces"In the Spose song "Can't get there from here", Spose raps "I'm not Rick but I spit Slick"In the Leak Bros song "Druggie Fresh", a reference to Doug E. Fresh, Tame One imitates the style of Slick Rick on "La Di Da Di."In the Keith Murray song "The World", Keith raps "I patch it up, like Slick Rick The Ruler"In the Will.i.am song "Feelin' Myself", French Montana raps "Slick Rick looking at the mirror"In the Everlast song "Painkillers" he raps "like Slick Rick said, I know I shouldn't have done it"The first two lines of Danny Brown's song "30" are "Sent your bitch a dick pic and now she need glasses; turn your bitch Slick Rick right now if I flashed it."In the music video for the remix of "All Gold Everything" by Trinidad James, rapper 2 Chainz appears with a similar eye patch, supposedly inspired by Rick'sIn the Future song "Codeine Crazy" Future raps "Dont tell me you celebrate, to the mula, I just went Rick The Ruler with the Jeweler."In the J. Cole song "January 28th" he rap "...Might be L or you might be Kane, or you might be Slick Rick with 19 chains"In the Jeezy song "R.I.P" he raps: "Who da nigga think he is? Slick Rick or Dana Dane? Think he Rakim or something, look at his chain."


Backstage appearance on Jay-Z's Fade to Black DVD.Cameo in Ludacris's music video for the single, "Number One Spot".Cameo, wearing his excessive jewelry in the New York Shit music video (2:56) by Busta Rhymes featuring Swizz Beatz.Himself in the game Def Jam: Fight for NY.Drug kingpin in the 1999 movie Whiteboyz, co-starring fellow rappers Doug E. Fresh, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe, Dead Prez and Mic Geronimo.Cameo in the film Brown Sugar, which starred Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan.Himself in the seminal Run DMC film Tougher Than Leather, performing the song "Treat Her Like a Prostitute".Interviewee in 1995 documentary The ShowOpened Chris Rock's Apollo Theatre comedy Show Bigger & BlackerFeatured in the 2011 film Rhyme and Punishment, which documented his time in prison.
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Date Venue Location Tickets
05.25.15 Fulton 55 Fresno, CA US
05.26.15 The Observatory Santa Ana, CA US
05.28.15 Club 101 El Paso, TX US
06.19.15 Baton Rouge River Center Arena Baton Rouge, LA US
07.03.15 Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, LA US
07.03.15 Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, LA US
07.18.15 Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre Irvine, CA US
07.19.15 Shoreline Amphitheatre Mountain View, CA US
08.08.15 Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood Atlanta, GA US