Ricky Martin Lloyd Walters, better known to the world as “Slick Rick”, is a Grammy-nominated, English-born performer and the most successful British-American rapper in music history who is known as Hip-Hop’s Greatest Storyteller. Originally from London, the hip-hop veteran began his career in 1983 as a member of Doug E. Fresh’s Get Fresh Crew, pioneering what is referred to as the "Golden Age of Hip- Hop". With four albums to his credit - the landmark The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988), The Ruler's Back (1991), Behind Bars (1994) and The Art of Storytelling (1999). Rick has collaborated with a range of musical icons, from Jay-Z and Missy Elliot to Outkast, Mos Def and Aaliyah. His music has been sampled and interpolated over 600 times, by such artists as Beyonce, Beastie Boys, TLC, Nas, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, Black Star, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg and Color Me Badd. In the process, he became the most sampled hip-hop artist ever. Many of the new songs became hit singles, underscoring his timeless influence. He's been a VH1 Hip-Hop Honors honoree; About.com’s “Top 50 MCs of Our Time,” ranked him #12; The Source’s roundup of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time placed him at #15 and Complex called him “The Best Rapper Alive” at the peak of his career. Ever the influence, he has been referenced in over 35 songs from the early 1990’s to present day by recording artists such as Nicki Minaj, J Cole, Pitbull. will.i.am. Amy Winehouse and Big Sean. Slick Rick has also acted and cameo’d in 10 movies and videos. He has four Billboard 200 records, and 14 Top 100 Singles worldwide. Music isn’t his only passion; on top of being a uniquely gifted lyricist, Rick is an actor and music producer known his fashion sense and for a growing list of business and philanthropic endeavors. The artist is known for his infamous eye-patch and heavily adorned jewelry. This self-expression through personal style has become his signature and has never been successfully duplicated. Recognizing the need for positive influences, he has devoted his time to mentoring youth on the dangers of violence. Additionally, Rick has partnered with various organizations to raise awareness and funds for the issues impacting underserved communities. With more than three decades in the world of music, this legacy artist is still striving, still working, still giving back to his community and still ruling!
In 1986, Rakim started to work with New York-based producer-DJ Eric B. The duo—known as Eric B & Rakim—is widely regarded as among the most influential and groundbreaking of hip-hop groups, due in no small part to Rakim's technical abilities. The duo’s first single, "Eric B. Is President" was a success and got the duo a contract with the fledgling Island Records sub-label 4th & B'way. The duo’s next single, the smash “I Know You Got Soul,” sparked early debate on the legality of unauthorized, uncredited sampling when James Brown sued to prevent the duo's use of a fragment of his music. It also established Brown's back catalog as a hip musical mining ground for a new generation of hip-hop programmers. Their first full album, Paid In Full, was released in 1987. causing a stir in the hip-hop music world due to its novel sound, approach, and subject matter. Rakim pioneered a practice previously unknown to hip-hop called internal rhyming.
Already an important aspect of traditional poetry, where rhymes could be found throughout the bar of a lyric which added to the rhythmic complexity of the song: "I keep the mic at Fahrenheit, freeze MCs, make 'em colder/The listeners system is kicking like solar/As I memorize, advertise like a poet/Keep it goin', when I'm flowin' smooth enough, you know it's rough." Instead of two rhyming syllables within two lines at the end of the lines, as we would find in the older hip-hop style displayed above, we have 18 rhyming syllables in just four lines. Rakim also introduced a lyrical technique known as cliffhanging and popularized the use of metaphors with multiple meanings. His songs were the first to really impart hip-hop music lyrics with a serious poetic device sensibility. Eric B & Rakim went on to produce three more successful albums, all now considered hip hop standards.
Prior to Rakim, hip-hop music lyricism was usually rather simple from a structural standpoint and the ideas it expressed were easy and direct. Many hip-hop artists (both underground and mainstream) acknowledge a huge debt to Rakim's innovative style. He is given credit for popularizing the heavy use of internal rhymes in hip-hop—rhymes that are not necessary to the overall rhyme scheme of the verse, but occur between the endpoints of lines and stanzas, serving to increase the alliteration, assonance, and emphasis of the rhyme. He is also credited for the jazzy, heavily stylistic, seemingly effortless delivery of his lyrical content.