Slick Rick Revisits His Great Adventures 30 Years Later

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This November, Slick Rick will celebrate the 30th anniversary of his debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Its influence is immeasurable and inspired legends like Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, and more. And it’s evident. Rick’s witty wordplay and effortless flow on the album also made him stand out among his contemporaries during the late 1980s.

The British-born, Bronx-based MC is a celebrated legend in Hip-Hop culture, but is due more flowers. To that end, on Sunday, Rick was officially added to the Bronx Walk Of Fame. He was also anointed to kick off the 47th annual Bronx Week celebration, along with #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and actress Maggie Siff.

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Billboard‘s Kathy Iandoli recently spoke with Slick Rick and asked him about any great adventures during the making of his debut LP. As opposed to remembering the great stories that became because of the project, Rick revealed one of the few things he would’ve changed about it.

“I would have put it out in a different order. You know how they say you put your best foot forward and then whatever after that?” he said, adding that he played the album for Dana Dane and Big Daddy Kane ahead of release. “Like, when we released the album, the first record that was put out was called ‘Teenage Love,’ which should have been ‘Children’s Story’ or ‘Mona Lisa.’ If you’re trying to go for mass record sales, if you’re trying to get every piece of juice out of an album, you know what I mean? You always put your best records out first.” In hindsight, Rick would have led with his highest-charting solo single. “I would have put out ‘Children’s Story,’ then ‘Mona Lisa,’ then whatever. You know, a certain order of power, intrigue, strength. Other than that, everything would have been pretty much the same.”

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Further speaking on the album, Rick says his goal was trying to make every song a hit and knew himself that “Children’s Story” was special before it even hit the streets just by the reactions his peers were giving him after it was recorded. “The mindset was probably, ‘You put out a single here and there, but now you have to make a whole album, so you have to mentally prepare yourself for at least 12 songs. You have to come up with 12 good subject matters, you got to make sure that the music is good, the subject is interesting and humorous to your age group.’ You know, you’re mentally preparing yourself.

“And then you want every one to be a hit,” the then-Def Jam Records artist continued. “You know, like ‘La Di Da Di’ and ‘The Show’ [both with Doug E. Fresh] were before? You want to get as many hits as you can out of 12. So it’s like a mental preparation type of a thing, plus you still got that youthful excitement and energy and all of that stuff going on too so that helps.”

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It’s been 19 years since Slick Rick released his last solo studio album, The Art of Storytelling, and since, he’s been reflecting on his life and career. During a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Ricky Walters mused about his past, particularly his attempted murder conviction in 1990 and subsequent jail sentence beginning in 1992.

“It depends how you look back on yourself,” he said. “If you overly scrutinize yourself, you could say, ‘I should have done this or that.’ You can look back and see how certain things influenced you to make wrong decisions. But you learn from your mistakes; what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You learn from your prison time, your bad and good situations. It’s like the story of Van Gogh with the ear-cutting-off: it depends on how you look at something.”

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Read Slick Rick’s full conversation with Kathy Iandoli at Billboard.