Rick “Slick Rick” Walters met Dougie Fresh back in 1984, while Dougie was judging an emcee contest that Rick was entered in. Dougie Liked Rick’s style, which led to Rick joining Dougie’s Get Fresh Crew. In 1985 Dougie and Rick (and the rest of the Get Fresh crew) released the single “The Show”, with the b-side “La Di Da Di”, and both songs would go one to be hailed as hip-hop classics. But with fame comes money, and with money comes problems, especially when mixed with a little greed and a lot of ego. The Get Fresh Crew was no exception. Rick didn’t feel he was getting his just due, so in the immortal words of Ice-Cube, “I saw it commin” that’s why Rick went solo. Russell Simmons signed the free agent to Def Jam and in 1988 Slick Rick released his solo debut The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.
The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick would showcase Ricky D sticking to his strong suit and giving his fans what they wanted: more hilariously zany stories. Def-Jam thought it would be a good idea to bring in two-thirds of the Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee and Eric Sadler) to handle half of the albums production, while Ricky D would handle the rest (for the most part).
The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick is hailed by many as one of the best hip-hop albums of all-time (The Source also gave it 5 mics), and its critical success was matched commercially, as The Great Adventures would go on to earn a platinum plaque.
Let’s give listen and see if it lives up to its rep.
Treat Her Like A Prostitute – Interesting way to start the album. Over his self-produced track, Rick kicks three tales about three cheating chicks in comedic fashion, like only Slick Rick can deliver. While the beat is decent it’s Rick’s razor-sharp storytelling and attention to detail that carrier this song on its shoulders. This was a pretty entertaining intro.
The Ruler’s Back – Ricky D lets all competitors know he’s back from his hiatus to reclaim his imaginary throne. In regal fashion, Ricky’s gives biting emcees the middle finger, but he’s not seeking revenge or to embarrass them. He simply wants them to repent for their wicked ways. Jam Master Jay’s beat is okay, but once again Rick’s rhymes are so well put together and delivered with such precision, its forgivable.
Children’s Story – Hip-hop classic. If you’ve never heard this song you’re probably reading the wrong blog. While reading the liner notes I discovered Rick produced this classic beat (or maybe I just forgot…I tend to forget details on albums from 20 years ago) that Montell Jordan would later
steal borrow, and turn it into a club and commercial hit a few years later. Rick spits one long verse (has to be at least 100 bars, but whose counting) about a young kid who’s bad decision spins out of control ending fatally (with words, I know it sounds like a somber song, but it’s really not). It’s probably the most pleasant murder on record that you’ll ever experience). I repeat, this is a certified hip-hop classic, you must become familiar with this song to get your hip-hop certification.
The Moment I Feared – Over this Bomb Squad track, which doesn’t sound very Bomb Squad-ish (it could use a cleaner mixing to bring out all the elements that might be missed with the naked ear, thank God for ear buds), Rick continues with his adventurous storylines. This time TGIF turns into life in prison, all over the course of what should have been a relaxing weekend. Rick’s in rare form, but the track is only mediocre, which takes away from the overall effectiveness of this song.
Let’s Get Crazy – Now this sounds a little more like a Bomb Squad beat (although, it doesn’t sound quite as busy as a PE song). I guess this is Rick’s mandatory party song (which today would be equivalent the mandatory club song). Rick sounds like he didn’t even enjoy recording this song, and that vibe is thrust upon the listener as well. I guess they all can’t be strong.
Indian Girl (An Adult Story) – This time Rick relays a story about an Indian girl named Running Rabbit (Really? Talk about stereo-types) who over the course of a few verses talks her out of her draws. The story ends with a hysterical twist. This was clever and entertaining, but not one of the strongest songs on the album.
Teenage Love – Another certified hip-hop classic. Over a uncharacteristicly mellow Bomb Squad track, Rick waxes poetical about a relationship that started out strong but over the course of time has lost its flame (at least for one of the parties involved). But instead of jumping out of this crashing plane, they decide to go down in flames, ultimately exchanging one flame or another. Rick and the Bomb Squad are on top of their game turning in a flawless effort. Seriously, this is poetry first, rap song second. I repeat: hip-hop classic.
Mona Lisa – Rick’s story starts off entertaining enough, as he spins a tale about a chick named Mona Lisa that he met at a Pizza Parlor. Maybe it’s just me, but the story seems to end abruptly with Rick’s boy pulling him out of the parlor and Mona Lisa sings him “a sad good-bye” song. It just feels incomplete, like another part of the story is missing. I didn’t care much for Rick’s beat, so this was a pretty blah experience.
Kit (What’s The Scoop) – If you were born before 1980 you probably remember the tv series, Knight Rider, starring David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, who drove a talking black Trans Am, named Kitt (if your were born after 1980 you’ll only remember the bad remake of the original series a couple of years ago, that quickly crashed (pun intended) and was forgotten). Ricky D borrows Kit (but was too lazy to make sure he was spelling his name right) to assist him on his mission to get his stolen imaginary crown back. Yeah, I know it sounds bad, but it actually sounds worse when you listen to it. Unfortunately, even the Bomb Squad produced track couldn’t save this mess.
Hey Young World – This might be my favorite Slick Rick song of all time. Rick comes across as the wise old man sharing his wisdom with the youth, warning them of the consequences of bad decisions (maybe he should have took some of his own advise?). Rick’s heavy drums and piano samples create the perfect back drop for his lyrical gems, giving it a semi-dark feel. This is a timeless masterpiece.
Teacher, Teacher – Over yet another Bomb Squad produced track (that also doesn’t sound remotely close to anything you’d here on a PE album) Rick plays the teacher, schooling all his students who are bitters and fake rhyme writers. Rick has talked an awful lot about bitters, which makes me wonder…was Ricky D taking shots at Dana Dane? He, like Rick, also rapped with a British accent (which had to be fake since the boy was born and raised in Brooklyn) and sounds remarkable similar to Rick. Rick sounds pretty good, talking shit regally the way only Ricky D can do, but the beat did nothing for me.
Lick The Balls – Rick drops his regalness, and just talks shit, and at times manages to sound slightly threatening. The Bomb Squad provide an effective funky track to back up Rick’s rhymes. One minor issue I have with Rick is at times his lyrics are not clearly articulated (this would ring more true on his later work, where some of his lines sound like he’s speaking a foreign language), making for a challenging listen (if you’re of the few who actually listens to lyrics and not just the beat) . This song is a prime example of that issue. All in all , this was a decent way to end the adventure.
For the most part, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick lives up to its title, taking the listener on a fast paced ride, filled with fun, somber, and ridiculous stops along the way. Slick Rick is arguably the greatest storyteller hip-hop’s ever seen, and most of that can largely be credited to his work on this album alone. While there are a few skippable moments, overall this is still a very good effort.
Did The Source Get It Right? You probably already no answer to this question based on the usage of “for the most part” and “a few skippable song” in the last paragraph. There are 3, maybe 4, songs that run from average to down right weak, so I have to go with a 4.5.
Right on point my hip hop brother. A few classic songs make this album seem stronger than it is. I still love it though. A damn shame how he got caught up in the street shit and had to do that bid in prison. No telling how many classics he had in him. The art of storytelling album was dope.