The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (Deluxe Edition)
Storytelling has been a part of recorded hip-hop music since the beginning, having evolved from limericks and anecdotes in the rhymes of The Sugarhill Gang to the dramatic inner-city blues of Duke Bootee and Grandmaster Melle Mel on “The Message.” Rappers such as Ice Cube, Nas, André 3000, Scarface, and The Notorious B.I.G. were all hailed for their narrative prowess. But they all owe a debt to Slick Rick, the master storyteller who made his splashy debut in 1985 with such genre-defining hits as “The Show” and “La Di Da Di.” Three years later, Slick Rick’s debut album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, delivered on the promise of those breakout tracks, introducing millions of listeners to the English-born, Bronx-bred gentleman-rudeboy known for his eyepatch, sharp suits, Kangol hats, and ostentatious jewelry. He returns from his hiatus to assert himself as hip-hop’s new debonair monarch in “The Ruler’s Back,” waving his scepter at imitators and haters: “There’s a lot of people out here tryin’ to sound like Ricky D/Not tryin’ to cause trouble, ’cause it’s really a small thing/But they’re bitin’ what I’m writin’/God, it’s great being the king.” And he’s a king with a conscience: On “Children’s Story” and “The Moment I Feared,” Rick crafts cautionary tales about living a life of crime and making bad decisions, with poignant conclusions that could come from a noir novel or mob film. The potent “Hey Young World,” meanwhile, finds him encouraging young people to walk the straight and narrow path to success. Then there’s Rick’s lovesick side, which is on full display in “Teenage Love” and “Mona Lisa.” On the former, he details the many intense emotions of young love, and the inevitable heartbreak that follows; on the latter, he unspools a vignette about a witty flirtation, one that lands with a bittersweet ending. The art of storytelling is one of hip-hop’s calling cards, and The Great Adventures of Slick Rick is a masterclass in weaving tales that are sensational and emotionally evocative.