Slick Rick’s Great Adventures Of Slick Rick vs. Too Short’s Life Is…Too Short. Which is Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.
Hip-Hop has its lyricists, it has its revolutionaries, but it also has its storytellers. Slick Rick and Too Short have sustained 30-plus-year careers off of spinning tales about circumstances in their lives and cities. With widely different styles, both MCs helped lead Rap into more adult themes, and made indelible marks on the face and sound of the culture. These two namesake, 1980s albums are rooted in so much of all that we have heard since. But what’s the better LP? (Click one then click “vote”).
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The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick by Slick Rick
Even as an accessory to Doug E. Fresh’s show, Slick Rick knew how to make Rap verses linear. The Bronx, New York-based MC quickly enhanced Rap’s storytelling abilities by adding some of the same qualities that novelists use. 1988’s The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick debut employed suspense (“Children’s Story”), memorable dialog (“Mona Lisa”), and the grotesque (“Lick The Balls”) in the MC’s narratives. With his bubbly cadence, clever wit, and knack for detail, Ricky Waters’ Def Jam introduction was a page-turner in audio. Not a gangsta rapper per se, Ricky D delved in tales of crime, sex, and spliff-smokin’ that made his raps arguably more comparable to peers such as The Fresh Prince and Dana Dane. Moreover, the eye-patched MC had a conversational flow where none of his rhymes seemed forced. Songs like “The Moment I Feared” and “Treat Her Like A Prostitute” maintained a meter that seemed more in common with Shakespeare than Sugarhill.
Like so many 1980s Rap figures, Slick Rick stepped forth as a fully formed character. He looked the part of royalty, to match his supreme diction, and worldly wisdom. Yet, at the same time, the lyricist was a man of the people—unashamed to encourage illicit behaviors; the album’s opener combated a wounded heart with brute misogyny. Great Adventures… succeeded, as Rick epitomized cool. A skillful producer, Rick was the sonic architect behind his biggest hits—built around pounding percussion. Meanwhile, the Bomb Squad cultivated work very different from their Public Enemy catalog, as Jam Master Jay provided some whimsicality. DJ Vance Wright was the perfect partner in crime, with crisp scratches to enhance the accounts. The album is the perfect dichotomy of Rap’s innocence and its looming adult-minded themes. Part of this album’s charms lie in the fact that it is arguably Rick’s sole unadulterated LP until the late 1990s. Few albums are as technically advanced lyrically, and as carefree and happy as Great Adventures.
Album Number: 1
Released: November 1, 1988
Label: Def Jam/Columbia Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #31 (certified gold, April 1989; certified platinum, October 1989)
Song Guests: DJ Vance Wright
Song Producers: (self), The Bomb Squad (Eric “Vietnam” Sadler & Hank Shocklee), Jam Master Jay
Life Is… Too Short by Too Short
After 1987’s Born To Mack had the whole world addicted to Too Short’s “Dope Fiend Beat,” the Oakland, California MC returned in ’89 with Life Is… Too Short. Now an industry figure thanks to his eye-opening sales reach, Short Dog tried to “get in where he fit in.” The sophomore LP, backed by Jive/RCA Records, responded to detractors. Todd Shaw pepped up his flow on songs like “Rhymes” and took a page from the N.W.A. song structure in “City Of Dope.” However, as he’s done throughout his nearly 35-year career, Short refused to compromise his identity, or pander. The title track waved off all criticism, and proved that the impending platinum plaques were a testament to stamina and refinement. “Oakland” was a neon-accented rendition of his image-driven accounts strictly for “the turf.” “I Ain’t Trippin'” extended his early ’80s vibes, and made a case for “dirty rhymes in dirty times.”
Life Is… Too Short took the Short Dog audio-cinema off of late night cable and took it full on into the late-night red light district. “Don’t Fight The Feelin'” took the male-vs.-female Rap dialog, and raised the stakes. Short’s songs were still way past the five-minute mark, big on low-end, and had a sound and style unlike anything coming out of New York or L.A. “CussWords,” “Pimp The Ho,” and others defiantly ostracized radio, video, and club opportunities. However, Too Short served raps that felt authentic, like he was providing an experience beyond what was in most MC’s lenses. Although his delivery was deliberately less dazzling than many peers, Too Short resonated with millions—a product of pimping, hustling, and the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism.
Album Number: 2
Released: January 31, 1989
Label: Dangerous/Jive/RCA Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #31 (certified gold, May 1989; certified platinum, December 1989; certified 2x platinum, April 1996)
Song Guests: Rappin’ 4-Tay, Danger Zone (Entice & Barbie), Al Eaton, Helen Kim, Janna Thomas, Jeanette Wright, Sharlena Brooks, DJ Universe
Song Producers: (self), Ted Bohannon, Al Eaton, Randy Austin
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.