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.
These days, much of Slick Rick's story remains untold. Clearly, there are moments of deliberate ambiguity in the Slick Rick Experience. Still, plenty of facts uphold the mythos. The eye patch, for instance, is legit, courtesy of a glass shard that flew into Rick's eye when he was an infant. And the British accent is genuine - its casual refinement belies every dumb gangsta stereotype. Throw in some gleaming grills and some bejeweled outerwear, and voila - you have the genius of Slick Rick. He's no reticent wallflower - he's larger than life. Going forward, there is much to celebrate. On May 23, 2008, New York governor David Paterson granted Slick Rick a full pardon. In essence, the esteemed governor closed a dark chapter in the Book of Rick. Now hope springs eternal. Slick Rick, one of hip-hop's founding fathers, is poised to rule again. The master of modulation, meter, and tone is back. This time, he's a permanent resident.
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