Slick Rick’s The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick vs. Biz Markie’s Goin’ Off. 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.
In Hip-Hop history, Slick Rick and Biz Markie are two of the most enduring characters. More than a decade before they appeared together on Will Smith’s “So Fresh,” these two crosstown MC’s established themselves through skills and personality, with fashion and symbols to follow. In 1988, each—after working with storied Hip-Hop crews—stepped forward with iconic debut albums. Both artists made LPs that engaged audiences with stories alongside the bravado, and the kind of charm that kept these men stars into the ’90s and 2000s, even as album cycles slowed. The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick and Goin’ Off are part of the reason ’88 stands so tall, and these critical introductions made 25-plus-year careers possible. With multiple hits and beloved album cuts on each, which made a greater impression on the Hip-Hop consciousness? (Click one then click “vote”).
The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick by Slick Rick
– Round 1 Winner (against Life Is…Too Short by Too Short, 80% to 20%)
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
Goin’ Off by Biz Markie
– Round 1 Winner (against Hot, Cool & Vicious by Salt-n-Pepa, 75% to 25%)
Since his arrival, Biz Markie has been a Hip-Hop multi-threat. The Long Island, New York representative is an MC, a DJ, a beat-boxer, and all around party-rocker. By 1988, the Juice Crew alum had applied his seasoned stage show as well as the success he witnessed in acts like Fat Boys and Whodini towards Goin’ Off. As LP opener “Pickin’ Boogers” plainly states, Biz liked to have fun at a time when most MCs took themselves very seriously. However, even on gimmicky Mad magazine-esque tracks, Marcel Hall’s rhymes (many penned by Big Daddy Kane) were no joke. “The Vapors” is minimalist storytelling, as Biz Markie tells a rags-to-riches tale about his crew, without ever overtly stating the theme to laymen. Less structured, the Diabolical rocked nimble stream of consciousness imagery in “Albee Square Mall.” It was this versatility that made Goin’ Off a dynamic album, without even trying.
Although Marley Marl’s greatest productions are traditionally associated with other Juice Crew acts, Goin’ Off is an incredible example of stellar arrangements and drum patterns. “Make The Music With Your Mouth” chopped down an Isaac Hayes arrangement so deftly that on its own merits, the handiwork reappeared in the 1990s and 2000s. “Nobody Beats The Biz” married the MC and DJ perfectly, thanks to Cool V’s crisp, high-pitched scratches. From Marley’s sampler and Biz’s spot-on impersonations and pop culture references, this is one of Hip-Hop’s greatest displays of its gestalt of influences. Steve Miller Band, “Reach Out Of The Darkness,” and a commercial for The Wiz were all at play in this one Cold Chillin’ Records LP. Juice Crew’s jester may be remembered as a goofball, but his magnum opus is his Goin’ Off debut, a patchwork of nimble, detailed rhymes, beats, and MC captivation. While many of his peers are more praised for their steadfast lyricism, has anybody’s innocent-minded Hip-Hop hits aged as well as the Biz?
Album Number: 1
Released: February 22, 1988
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros. Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #90
Song Guests: DJ Cool V
Song Producers: Marley Marl
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.