Slick Rick Tells The Stories Of His Jewelry Collection Piece By Piece (Video)

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While Slick Rick is widely recognized as one of Rap’s greatest storytellers, he is also well known for his flamboyant jewelry. For more than 30 years, along with the eye-patch and colorful suits, the MC almost exclusively appears in specially-designed jewelry. Precious metals and jewels are on his fingers, around his wrists, in his teeth, and certainly around his neck. On Soul Train with Doug E. Fresh in the mid-1980s, Rick donned at least three gold rings to match his sunglasses. He was more draped up by 1988’s The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick cover art. It has been a growing part of Rick’s image ever since. However, behind the artwork, iconic photographs, and props is a real story of a collector with a vision for custom quality.

Recently, Rick appeared in GQ’s “On The Rocks” video series. Right from the jump, The Ruler is honest and upfront about the history of Hip-Hop jewelry. “Back in the days, when rappers used to start off, we used to have to borrow the jewelry before we could purchase it. So, that’s why you hear a lot of rumors where they say, ‘You don’t own that. You don’t own this. You borrow it. Da da da.’ Back in the days you’d say that a lot,” admits Slick Rick. “But it was true. But it’s not a bad thing; it’s just you have to sell yourself like ‘Cinderella.’”

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Later in the piece, he follows up with a personal example, “This was one of my first bracelets. I got it from Jacob The Jeweler too. I used to borrow this from Jacob until I purchased it.” The famed Manhattan jeweler arranged a payment plan for the Def Jam Records artist. Throughout, Rick’s wisdom about jewelry is accessible, regardless of class. He admits several times to not having the means to get the pieces he desired. However, he found a way to save up and make a play. Rick also offers some tips to people who may want to get some flash on a budget.

Ricky also explains where he thinks the notion to wear so much bling came from. “Well, I’ve been in this jewelry game for a minute. Since the very beginning. You know, the only people that were before people like me and Rakim and Eric B. and them cats, was like Mr. T. So, Mr. T was our role model, before us.” Besides the A-Team star, he also cites Sammy Davis, Jr. as another inspiration too, especially displaying rings while holding the microphone.

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Rick shows a ring in his collection that resembles one of his earliest purchases. “When you’d look at my first pictures, you’d always see me with one ring on, or a bracelet. I didn’t have all this stuff yet.” Rick also says that he often upgraded his pieces in size, but also taking pieces and later encrusting them with diamonds. He says that he has also “dipped” older rings, bracelets, and necklaces to rose or white gold tints. It gave them a freshness for changing trends. On one table is Rick’s more extravagant modern purchases. On the other surface are some relics from Rick’s ’80s and ’90s run.

This style icon reasons that big, flashy pieces have always been popular in places like New York City because they stand out from a distance. They show success and flare. He runs through his bejeweled eye-patches, gaudy rings, and humongous medallions, including one gift from his wife. Although he has a gold plate with a diamond-studded “scales of justice” and another with a 3D scorpion, he asserts that he is neither a Libra or Scorpio, but instead a Capricorn. Two of these astrological pieces were altered after purchase. He says he bought the justice piece from a Chinatown storefront display after years of it sitting there idly. The Ruler says he believes it may have belonged to a drug dealer who was never able to come back for his custom medallion.

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At one point, Slick Rick displays an iced-out watch that he uses when he’s mingling with the well-to-do. Asked by GQ if the rectangular-faced watch is a famed Cartier, Rick replies, “It’s a Bronx-ier,” with a laugh. He does show off a custom Rolex with added rings around it. This one is another Jacob creation. Rick shows some of his specific pieces from the ’80s, including a Mary plate with a ruby, and other medallions.

Rick goes on to breakdown why you always have to be adding to your collection. “As time evolved, you gotta get bigger—as you can see. This is a style that came out later, which made this look tiny. You see what I’m saying? Now, you walking around like this and you ain’t getting no respect. So what? Yeah, give it to your girl,” he says with a chuckle. It is just one of several lighthearted moments in the vignette. Rick describes purchasing a special diamond ring set for he and his wife after returning home from prison in 1997. He says he saw Doug E. Fresh wearing a similar ring and knew that he had to step his game up.

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Last year, Def Jam released some special 30th-anniversary merchandise tied to Rick’s debut. They also dropped some new songs from the Great Adventures sessions that did not make the cut. He also worked with Black Eyed Peas on their latest album. Recently, Rick also made a cameo in Nas’ NASIR mini-movie.