Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Slick Rick

  • The Great Adventures of Slick Rick [Def Jam, 1988] C+
  • The Ruler's Back [Def Jam/Columbia, 1991] A-
  • Behind Bars [Def Jam, 1994] Choice Cuts
  • The Art of Storytelling [Def Jam, 1999] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Great Adventures of Slick Rick [Def Jam, 1988]
Like that other girlie-voiced rapper Dana Dane, Rick masks insecurities about his masculinity by dissing the opposite sex even uglier than the ugly competition. From the clarion "Treat Her Like a Prostitute" through this bitch and that cocaine dolly and the fake virgin "with a yay-wide gash" and the one who meant yes when she said no and ended up marching a tribe of Indians out her cunt, this man hates women. His ballad is keyed around the refrain "Don't hurt me again" and is directed at all treacherous females, not just one. His anticrime warning closes with a convincing imitation of how bad you groan the first time you get cornholed. C+

The Ruler's Back [Def Jam/Columbia, 1991]
Cut in a hurry on bail, this widely reviled record will go nowhere, but I hear it as a work of mad avant-garde genius. I'm not kidding--nothing has ever sounded like this. Bass and drums tumbling forward atop submerged hook effects in a trademark groove that never stops, every track checks in fast. And though Rick's bad dreams are almost as full of niggers and bitches as N.W.A's kiddie porn, his quick, preoccupied singsong drawl makes it gratifyingly impossible to pin down the details. In short, it's genuinely surreal, as befits the product of a sick mind. A-

Behind Bars [Def Jam, 1994]
"All Alone (A Love That's True)"; "Behind Bars" Choice Cuts

The Art of Storytelling [Def Jam, 1999]
The music on this unflappably deft comeback is unlayered, highlighting spare beats with simple scratches or vocal sound effects to showcase the feyly effeminate king's-honeydrip singsong that's been identifiable at 50 yards since "La-Di-Da-Di." Mostly he boasts about how pretty he is and how good he raps, proving the latter with cameos from such modern-day flowmasters as Raekwon, Nas, Snoop, and Big Boi. He plays his prison card by trumping the two-line auditions from the wannabes who serenade him as he walks to freedom with "Kill Niggaz," which describes a fictional crime spree far deadlier than the attack he got sent up for. And he writes about fucking with the detailed relish of someone who's read a lot of pornography. A-