Richard Martin Lloyd Walters (born 14 January 1965 in Mitcham, London, England), better known by his stage name, Slick Rick, is arguably the most Troperiffic rapper there is. Hailed by many as the greatest story-teller in hip-hop, his unique Mid-Atlantic drawl and usage of narrative and tropes in his songs are virtually unmatched by any other rapper alive. He's also known for being one of the poster boys of "Parental Advisory": Nobody could push the envelope of the Parental Advisory sticker like he could, and even to this day, many of his songs can still give a media watchdog a heart attack.
Born and raised by a British Jamaican family in Mitcham, Rick was blinded in his right eye by broken glass as an infant, and has worn his now-iconic eye-patch ever since. In 1977, his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he met Dana Dane, and would later form a rap group together called the "Kangol Crew".
After that group ran it's course, Rick would gain nationwide exposure after joining Doug E. Fresh's "Get Fresh Crew" in 1985, under the name MC Ricky D. He was featured on the group's single "The Show", and it's B-side, "La Di Da Di", which became a cult hit, eventually earning Rick his first Gold certified single. Three years later, he was signed to Def Jam Recordings, and released his solo debut The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, which became a multi-platinum success, hitting number one on the Rap and R&B charts, and peaking within the top 40 of the Billboard 200.
Rick, however, would not get to enjoy his success for long. In 1990, he shot his cousin and former bodyguard Mark Plummer, after he admitted to having Rick get shot outside of a nightclub. Inevitably, Rick was charged with attempted murder and was initially sentenced to two years in prison. However, due to issues with the government over his immigration status, another three years were added, and he was imprisoned on Riker's Island. His subsequent albums The Ruler's Back and Behind Bars, the latter of which was recorded while still in prison, were met with lukewarm sales and reviews.
After being released from prison in 1996, Rick would renew his contract with Def Jam, and released his fourth (and so far, final) album, The Art of Storytelling in 1999. Considered a return to form to his 1988 debut, it became his highest charting album, peaking at number eight on the Billboard 200. Today, Slick Rick continues to tour worldwide, and volunteers his time to mentor kids about violence.
After more than two decades of legal battles over his immigration status, The Ruler was finally granted American citizenship in 2016, while also retaining his British citizenship. In 2018, he released his first single in nearly 20 years, "Snakes of the World Today."
- The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988)
- The Ruler's Back (1991, not to be confused with the single of the same name from The Great Adventures)
- Behind Bars (1994, recorded during his imprisonment on Riker's Island)
- The Art of Storytelling (1999, currently his last album)
- The Show/La Di Da Di
- Teenage Love
- Children's Story (Notable for being entirely self-produced by Rick himself)
- The Moment I Feared
- The Ruler's Back
- Hey Young World
- I Shouldn't Have Done It
- Mistakes Of A Woman In Love With Other Men
- It's A Boy
- Behind Bars
- I Like (With Montell Jordan, and was featured on The Nutty Professor (1996) soundtrack)
- Sittin' In My Car
- Street Talkin'
- 2 Way Street
- Kill Niggaz
- We Turn It On
- Da Art Of Storytellin' Pt. 1 (With OutKast, his verse only appears on the single version, as it was cut from Aquemini)
- Auditorium (Credited as "The Ruler", With Mos Def)
- Snakes of the World Today
As we trope a little somethin' like this! Hit it!
- Allegory: "I Shouldn't Have Done it" was basically him letting out his regret of shooting Mark Plummer, his cousin, veiled by a story about a bad relationship.
- An Aesop:
- In "Teenage Love", Rick warns the listener not to jump into love blindly, as the person you're with can turn out to be not quite what you imagined.
- "2 Way Street" deals with Rick's promiscuity during his time on tour and how it affects his conscience, due to him stepping out on his girlfriend because of it.
- "Children's Story" also ends with one. After the teenager is killed by the cops, Rick tells his nephews to stay "straight and narrow, or your soul gets cast".
- Broken Aesop: "Treat Her Like a Prostitute". While Rick does make some good points throughout the song, the title alone should tell you why the message falls flat on its face.
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: One of hip hop's early victims of this trope. "The Show" and "La Di Da Di" borrowed lyrics from The Beatles' "Michelle" and The Honey Drippers' "Sukiyaki", respectively. Since the rights weren't obtained to sample either songs, they got removed from later releases. What makes this clumsy is that both copyrighted verses were in the middle of the song, and they weren't edited out properly to make up for that.
- Downer Ending: "Children's Story". The song ends with the teenage thief turning himself in, only to get killed by the cops.
- Eyepatch of Power: He's almost never seen without it. His right eye became blind after a childhood accident.
- He's Back!: Invoked with the song "The Ruler's Back".
- High-School Sweethearts: Deconstructed in "Teenage Love". The story initially begins by playing the trope straight, but as the song goes on, the more the couple's relationship falls apart, leading to their inevitable break-up.
- Humiliation Conga: From "The Moment I Feared": Rick is beat up at a Boogie Down Productions concert and robbed of his jewellery, despite telling the muggers it was actually fake. After that, he ends up getting seduced by Sarah, his best friend's girlfriend, and actually winds up shooting said best friend after he attacks him when he walked in on them. And then Sometime after this, Rick is busted by cops for several drug charges, and the murder of Sarah, who he killed to get the drugs in the first place. And just as if things couldn't get worse, Rick gets jumped by two inmates in jail. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happens next.
- I Have Many Names: Slick Rick, MC Ricky D, Rick The Ruler, Rick-Rick, Uncle Ricky... The list goes on.
- Prison: The main subject of the album Behind Bars is his incarceration.
- Sampling: It's impossible to count how many other performers have sampled any his songs. Even Miles Davis swiped a few lines from him on his album Doo-Bop. It even goes full circle, as Rick was often prone to sampling himself!
- Signature Headgear: If he isn't wearing his crown, he can usually be spotted wearing a Kangol hat.
- STD Immunity: Averted in "Indian Girl." Thanks to the fact that he spent most of the song focused on trying to get her to have sex with him, Davy Crockett was in for a shock when he found out Running Rabbit had crabs in her lady parts.
- Straw Misogynist: Let's just say if "Treat Her Like a Prostitute" and "A Love That's True" were released today, Slick Rick's career would go down in flames before it even started. Thankfully, this trope is strictly limited to his rap persona.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: It's very easy to see where Will Smith got his early style of rapping from. Rick debuted in 1982, but didn't get his mainstream rub 'till around '85, the same year Will officially debuted under the name "Fresh Prince" with DJ Jazzy Jeff. However, Will would eventually switch up his rap style around 1991 when his album sales started declining, while Rick would keep using his story-telling flow for the rest of his career. Ironically, both would wind up doing a track together in 1999.
- Troperiffic: Perhaps the only person that rivals him in rapping is Childish Gambino.