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Slick Rick

Hip Hop & Rap

On January 14, 1965, Ricky M. L. Walters, known in the music industry as Slick Rick aka Ricky D., was born in South Wimbledon, London, England to his Jamaican parents. Known as Ricky back in the day, the soon-to-be entertainer moved with his family to the Bronx in 1975. Exposed to the hip-hop beats and music scene in the Bronx, Ricky began making a name for himself by competing in and winning nearly every MC battle contest he entered. He finally hit the jackpot at a MC contest at the 369 Armory in Harlem, where he attracted the attention of Doug E. Fresh, who was garnering his own attention due to his ability to imitate drum machines and various special effects. Striking up a friendship, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick released the history-making, single “The Show and La Di Da Di” in the summer of 1985. With Fresh’s beatbox and Rick’s smooth lyrical delivery, the duo nearly single-handedly transformed rap. With his music career in works, Rick moved to New York City, where he signed with Russell Simmons at Def Jam Records. In 1988, Slick Rick released his solo album “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick”. The debut album hit number one Billboard R&B/hip-hop charts and ended up being one of the first hip hop records to go platinum. As his star rose, Rick played the part of the MC to the hilt, decking himself out in jewelry and chains sometimes up to $60,000 in baubles at a time. And besides the trademark eye patch –which covers his eye that was blinded by a piece of glass while Rick was still an infant living in London – Rick wore a gold crown, soon causing fans to refer to the rapper as The Ruler. What else would you expect from the Ruler? But the good times soon ended for Rick, who was arrested for attempted murder in 1990 for the shooting of his cousin and an innocent bystander. Rick accused his cousin of extorting money from him. In 1991 Russell Simmons bailed him out and Slick Rick recorded his sophomore album – “The Ruler’s Back” – in three weeks, before he was sentenced to five years in prison. Three years later, Rick was given work-release privileges, which allowed him to live at home and spend his days working on a new album. After six months of serving time out of jail on a work-release program, the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) informed Rick they planned to deport him. His work release was discontinued, and he was returned to prison as he waited for the immigration case to make its way through the courts. His third album was released in November 1994. As the record’s title was aptly named, Rick was “Behind Bars” once again. Eighteen months passed by before Rick’s immigration case made it before a judge. In the spring of 1995, Rick appeared in court and asked for a special exemption. He was granted a waiver of deportation, but the INS soon appealed the court’s decision. After several years of court appearances and appeals, the INS decided not to pursue the matter. That is until Sept. 11, 2001, when many things changed for illegal aliens. Regards It was 1999 before Slick Rick released his fourth album, “The Art Of Storytelling” on Def Jam. The album featured Nas, OutKast, Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Kid Capri, Canibus, and Doug E. Fresh. 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. Walters was continuously refused bail, but after 17 months in prison he was released on November 7, 2003. Now he’s just living his life, raising two teenage kids, supervising two rental properties he owns in New York and performing when he can. (I had the pleasure of seeing him in Dallas Texas and he still rocks the crowd.) I have read in several articles that he believes that the rap record business has frozen out “mature” veterans and has favored commercialism over community and that he’s waiting it out until the climate is more receptive. He says, “The record companies are catering to the youth, put all the old-school cats on the shelf. It would defeat the purpose of making a great record if you can’t get it promoted.” All we can do is wait with open arms for the Ruler to make his triumphant return. UPDATE 5-23-2008 Break out your Cool Water cologne! New York Governor David Paterson has granted a full and unconditional pardon to rapper Slick Rick for the attempted murders of his cousin and another man. The eyepatched rapper, whose real name is Ricky Walters, served more than five years in the slammer after the 1990 shooting of the two men, who both survived. The Feds had been trying to deport the UK-born Slick since 2002. The pardon should halt these efforts. The good gov says the rap star is a good citizen who does volunteer work in his community. For his part Rick says, “I look forward to enjoying this time with my family and friends and to continue leading an honest and productive life.”