Ricky Martin Lloyd Walters, better known as Slick Rick, began his career as one-half of the Kangol Crew (with Dana Dane) and from 1984 on as a member of Doug E. Fresh’s Get Fresh Crew. A non-fatal self-defense shooting (in which a bystander got hit too) and trouble with US immigration services landed the England-born Slick Rick in prison, just when he was getting ready to capitalize on the success of his landmark 1988 solo debut Great Adventures of Slick Rick.
Although he was never quite able to replicate the genius and success of his debut album, Slick Rick is universally recognized as one of the greatest storytellers in Hip Hop, with a unique sense of humor and a signature butter smooth flow.
Slick Rick’s sound is so unique, he became the most-sampled artists in Hip Hop, making his hits all the more timeless. For this list, we have selected 15 of Slick Rick’s very best tracks. Are your Slick Rick favorites missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!
15. King (1991)
“Is there a party over here, wit no guns and knives gettin in
Now let and best, get sweat the life threatenin’…”
Sure, Slick Rick’s sophomore album wasn’t quite the classic his debut was, but it wasn’t as bad as some people would have you believe either. This song is a prime example of Slick Rick’s abilities – his flow on this cut is simply ridiculous.
14. Lick The Balls (1988)
“Now everything that come out your mouth, sound like it’s out of spite / I’m back on a mission and this time I’m gonna anchor right / That’s right, ads help, he’s improvin it / “Thank gosh Rick! We love the way you’re movin it” / Who’s hittin rough in eighty-eight I bet your momma knows / Backslap you all down like y’all were dominoes…”
This is one of the most underrated tracks of Slick Rick’s classic debut album. Slick Rick does some fine bragging and boasting over a dope Bomb Squad instrumental. A great track to close out an epic album.
13. Behind Bars (1994)
“In the slammer kid but I’m innocent / Lord played witty wasn’t having any pity / Now in Razor Blade City…”
The title track from Slick Rick’s third album, an album considered sub-par by a lot of critics and even Slick Rick himself. Behind Bars is not all bad though, and this personal cut is one of the highlights.
12. Mistakes Of A Woman In Love With Other Men (1991)
“Call me the freaker, I bump it in ya speaker / Week on my birthday, met this girl named Tameka / Astonishing creature, made the rest look tired / Desired, that was the beauty I admired…”
The problem of Slick Rick’s sophomore album was that it wasn’t The Great Adventures…. When your debut is an absolute classic, it will be nearly impossible to surpass or even equal that effort. The fact that his second album was quickly recorded while Slick Rick was on a furlough from jail, probably didn’t help his artistic focus. Nevertheless, The Ruler’s Back is much better than critics said at the time of its release – and this is just one of the dope tracks off the album.
11. Teenage Love (1988)
“See just when you swore, the ball was rollin’ and / Then they’re gone, and part of ya heart’s been stolen / Get back on your feet, with a hop and a skip / But no, you rather go wit this dead relationship…”
“Teenage Love” is the first single released from The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. The song deals with first infatuations and the powerful feelings of love and loss that go with it. Classic material.
10. Memories (1999)
“Fine grown Pine-Sol / Heavenly rhyme throne / Remember when you were young in the ’70 time zone / Stages, ages about seven I say kids / The dress code of our parents looked awfully outrageous / Not down on ’em, games and clownin / When soul was at it’s highest rate like James Brown and them…”
“Impress The Kid”, “2 Way Street”, “Frozen”, “I Run This” – just a few of the excellent tracks from Slick Rick’s fourth and final album The Art Of Storytelling that would not be out of place on a list like this. We chose to go with “Memories”, an underrated Slick Rick track with a killer laid back beat provided by DJ Clark Kent.
9. The Moment I Feared (1988)
“Well I’m sittin on my lunch break, grinnin my teeth / It’s the last day of the week, boy what a relief / My muscles kind of ache, they felt rigid and stiff / So I looked around, and I smoked this big fat spliff / Now I’m happy as can be I’m in this pothead spell / I put some Visine in my eyes so that no one can tell / It’s 12:55 almost time for the bell / Put the breath mints in the mouth so that the mouth don’t smell…”
A classic cautionary tale about the dangers of the street life and exemplary for Slick Rick’s fabled storytelling abilities.
8. Street Talkin' ft. Big Boi (1999)
“OutKast and Slick, the answer is in it / Hon you need to get your ass on the dancefloor this minute…”
The lead single from Slick Rick’s excellent 1999 album The Art Of Storytelling is a dope collabo with OutKast, with Big Boi representing the Southern giants with a killer verse.
7. The Ruler's Back (1988)
“Gather ’round party goers as if your still livin / And get on down to the old Slick rhythm / Now this one here is called the Ruler my dear / It’s a mere party booster that will set things clear / It’s a hundred percent proof from champions of truth / And if you feel you need spirit I’ll bring back your youth / Relax your mind, and folks unwind / And be kind to a rhythm that you hardly find / And off we go, let the trumpets blow / Well hold on, because the driver of the mission is a pro… / The Ruler’s back…”
Produced by Jam Master Jay, this opening track off Slick Rick’s debut album is the perfect tone-setter for what would turn out to be an absolute Hip Hop classic.
6. I Shouldn't Have Done It (1991)
“Well, I’mma tell you a story and I come out bluntly / Born an ugly child; hey, nobody would want me / I used to walk around and get upset and upsetter / Till I figured out ways to make myself look better…”
The lead single off The Ruler’s Back, with typical storytelling by Slick Rick and produced by underrated producer Vance Wright, who did most of the hypnotic production on the album.
5. Hey Young World (1988)
“This rap here… it may cause concern it’s / Broad and deep… why don’t you listen and learn / Love mean happiness… that once was strong / But due to society… even that’s turned wrong / Times have changed… and it’s cool to look bummy / And be a dumb dummy and disrespect your mummy…”
We could have included almost all tracks of Slick Rick’s Great Adventures…, this one – the third single off the album – is included here because it is extra significant because of its meaningful lyrics.
4. Mona Lisa (1988)
“Well, it was one of those days — not much to do / I was chillin downtown, with my old school crew / I went into a store — to buy a slice of pizza / And bumped into a girl, her name was Mona — what? / Mona Lisa (what?) Mona Lisa, so men made you.. / You know what I’m sayin? So I said, “Excuse me, dear / My gosh, you look nice! / Put away your money / I’ll buy that slice!” / She said, “Thanks – I’d rather a slice of you / I’m just kidding, but that’s awfully nice of you” / The compliment showed she had a mind in her / And when I smiled (PING!) I almost blinded her / She said, “Great Scott! Are you a thief? / Seems like you have a mouth full of gold teeth” / Ha-ha, hah! Had to find that funny / So I said, “No child, I work hard for the money / And calling me a thief? Please! Don’t even try it / Sit down eat your slice of pizza, and be quiet…”
Yet another one of the highlights from the monumental Great Adventures… and one of Slick Rick’s signature tracks.
3. The Show (1985)
“Stepped on the D-Train at 205th / I saw a pretty girl (so?) so I sat beside her / Then she went roar like she was Tony the Tiger / I said hold on, there’s been a mistake / Honey, my name’s Slick Rick, not Frostie Flakes…”
Although not strictly a Slick Rick song – it was released as a Doug E Fresh song, with Slick Rick (or Ricky D) being part of Doug E Fresh’s Get Fresh Crew – this classic track is included in this list nevertheless because it introduced Slick Rick to the world. “The Show” – and it’s fellow A-side “La Di Da Di” – turned out to be unbeatable Hip Hop classics.
2. La Di Da Di (1985)
“La-di-da-di, we like to party / We don’t cause trouble, we don’t bother nobody / We’re just some men that’s on the mic / And when we rock up on the mic we rock the mic right…”
Was there ever a more impactful double A-side release in the history of Hip Hop? Together with “The Show”, “La Di Da Di” laid the foundation for scores of party-flavored, straight up fun Hip Hop songs. Super classic.
1. Children's Story (1988)
“Once upon a time not long ago / When people wore pajamas and lived life slow / When laws were stern and justice stood / And people were behavin’ like they ought ta good…”
After he made his imprint on the scene in 1985 on Doug E Fresh’s classic songs “The Show” and “La Di Da Di”, Slick Rick released his nearly flawless debut album The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick in 1988. Slick Rick’s superior story telling abilities, combined with his humor and typical rap style shine on the whole album, this is the album’s best track and Slick Rick’s signature cut.