Slick Rick’s Most Cautionary Tale Was His Own, Told Over Warren G Funk (Video)
Slick Rick is a master storyteller with quite a tale to tell from his own life. The Ruler maintains a unique physical aesthetic which consists of Kangol caps, eye-patch, designer wardrobe, and enough gold jewelry to make Mr. T blush. His signature look was as magnetic as his laconic delivery, an accent amalgamated by his London transplant-to-New York City roots.
Following the legendary MC’s release of his landmark 1988 debut album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, his promising career was fatefully detoured in 1990 when he was charged with attempted murder after he allegedly shot his former bodyguard and an innocent bystander. Although Rick claimed self-defense in the incident, he plead guilty and was sentenced to five years in New York’s Rikers Island prison.
Before entering prison in 1992, Rick released his sophomore album The Ruler’s Back in 1991. The LP received mixed reviews and had lukewarm sales, comparatively, peaking at #29 on the Top 200. After he entered jail, Rick’s creative process did not cease as he continued to record.
In November 1994, Slick Rick’s label Def Jam released his aptly-titled third album Behind Bars. Ahead of Tupac’s achievement as the first recording artist in history to have a #1 album while incarcerated, Slick Rick was the first notable MC to keep an active career during a long-term bid. The quality of Behind Bars shows an MC who reflected on his craft while inside.
Behind Bars also boasted an all-star production lineup that brought out some of his best artistry in many years. Prince Paul, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Easy Mo Bee made the album a hidden gem in Rick’s discography. However, the album’s title track featured Rick’s Def Jam label mate Warren G, who was one of Rap’s biggest stars at the time. While Warren also spit on an alternate mix of the song, the collaboration is a cool merger of the man who influenced Warren and Snoop Dogg, and a veteran who could use some refreshing:
The vet told his own story as another cautionary tale. It was not all good in prison, and the MC wanted Heads to take heed. The clock may have tick-tocked slowly in Rick’s 6 x 8′ cell, but he certainly didn’t stop. This music video went to animation at a time when that was not so common. The outside world got some endearing MC Ricky D music, and a reason to remember the master storyteller during a pivotal point.
#BonusBeat: Slick Rick’s boss Russell Simmons paid him a visit on Rikers:
This is from The Show, a film title that comes from a Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick classic.