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Slick Rick, born Ricky Walters in the United Kingdom in 1965, is the most successful British-American rapper in music history. After initially striking gold with 1985's historic single "La Di Da Di," a collaboration with fellow visionary Doug E. Fresh, Rick moved to New York City, where he signed with Russell Simmons and Def Jam Records. In 1988, he released his first solo album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. The disc hit No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop charts and was one of the first hip hop records to go Platinum.

While on bail in 1991, Rick hurried to record his sophomore effort, The Ruler's Back. But three weeks of recording sessions were followed by five years in jail, as Rick was charged with attempted murder. In 1994, work-release privileges allowed Rick to live at home, where he conceived a new album. However, after just six months, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service informed Rick of its plans to deport him. All work-release privileges ceased, and authorities sent Rick back to prison. He served his time dutifully, though, and even released his third album, the aptly-named Behind Bars. His fourth Def Jam recording, The Art of Storytelling, also appeared in 1999.

Let's take a moment to appreciate a great album that was a hit from the moment of its release and which has Slick Rick did not have much of a profile then. He was known, if at all, as MC Ricky D, a member of Doug E. Fresh's Get Fresh Crew. Despite Doug's top billing, everyone who loved "La-Di-Da-Di" and "The Show" - the crew's smash single in the summer of 1985 -- understood that. BRONX The kids for whom Rick made Great Adventures, most of them leading lives not so very different from the one being led by the 23-year-old Bronx-based rapper himself, went nuts for it from the jump. Within a Clearly, these young people "got" Rick right away. They appreciated his wild humor, sexual frankness, and unprecedented storytelling skills - not to mention his willingness to express vulnerability in romantic affairs, a trait much more shocking in its nakedness More happened in one of Rick's songs than occurred in whole albums by other rappers.

Consider "Children's Story." Produced by Rick himself in collaboration with his pal Vance Wright, it is arguably Great Adventures' masterpiece. The story of a couple of young stickup kids who fall afoul of the law, the track is framed as a cozy little bedtime. Rick proceeds to give voice to a broad cast of characters: Uncle Ricky (the Cat In the Hat- like narrator), Uncle Ricky's young niece and nephew, the stickup kids, and - in a memorable cameo appearance -- Dave the Dopefiend. Plot- wise, there is a robbery and long chase The rest of the album revealed even more range. "Teenage Love" and "Hey Young World" are absolutely un-ironic and touching love songs a la New Edition, as is "Mona Lisa," a sweet boy-meets-girl- at-a-pizza-shop scenario that nods to Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By" and to a super-romantic ballad by Nat "King" Cole that was also called "Mona Lisa." "The Moment I Feared" tells three separate bad-luck stories; in the final one our hero is the victim of a Very quickly, Rick became beloved not only for his lyrical flow and sense of humor, but for his fashion style, which reflected his roots in England and Jamaica. From his Kangols to his eyepatch to his gold-and-diamond fronts, and from the truck jewelry around his neck.

Over the years, the renown of Great Adventures has only continued to grow. Go visit whosampled.com when you get the chance and see for yourself. The website notes that the album's songs have been sampled nearly 900 times and covered 16 times. "Children's Story," of course, was famously sampled by Montell Jordan for "This is How We Do It," a monster hit in 1995. But it has also been sampled by Eminem, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie Smalls, Mos Def, Ludacris, Mary J. Blige, Lauren Hill, Ghost Face, Method Man, Aesop Rock, UGK, Lupe Fiasco, Boogie Down Productions, Rakim, Shyne, and Even more astonishing, perhaps, is how many hundreds of times Rick has been shouted out in the songs of other recording artists over the years.

In this case, I'd suggest a visit to the scholarly environs of RapGenius.com, but the highlights include M.I.A. on "Bring the Noise" ("'Cause I'm a mom it don't make me thick/I'm a overweight, heavyweight, female Slick Rick"), Kanye West on Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" ("Hey, young world, I'm the new Slick Rick") and Amy Winehouse on "Me and Mr. Jones" ("Made me miss the Slick Rick gig/And But Lt. Frost's regard for Rick is no higher than Rakim's. In "Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap," Ice-T's documentary feature film from 2012, Ra says, "When Slick told a story, you was right there. If he was talking about running through the park, you smelled the grass." Jay-Z is also an admirer. In "Decoded" (2011), Jay lays out just how Rick'swork influenced his own development as an artist and a human being: "Slick Rick taught me that not only can rap be emotionally It really is amazing. Play The Great Adventures today.

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