Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Mar 6th 2009 4:00PM by James Sullivan
The hip-hop career of Slick Rick has been weighed down by more shackles and chains than the bling pioneer could ever have imagined. His attempted-murder rap was only the beginning.
Born in London to Jamaican parents, Ricky Martin Lloyd Walters moved with his family to New York as a boy, and he never applied for citizenship. The eye patch he wore from a childhood accident was his first trademark; his uncanny ability to spin yarns with rhymes was his second. His debut album, 1988's 'The Great Adventures of Slick Rick,' became one of the most widely imitated hip-hop records of all time. 'Children's Story,' Rick's cautionary tale about the seduction of a life of crime is an undisputed classic.
With his sudden rise to fame, "Rick the Ruler" led a flamboyant lifestyle that made him a target in his Bronx stomping ground. He hired a bodyguard, a cousin from Jamaica named Mark Plummer. But Plummer turned out to be trouble, and Rick soon let him go. When Rick got robbed and pistol-whipped, he suspected Plummer and his friends. Then the rapper got shot outside a nightclub. Fearing for his life, Slick Rick began carrying guns everywhere he went. When he spotted his cousin outside a Bronx store, he panicked and fired several shots, wounding Plummer and a bystander.
In the resulting high-speed chase with police, Rick drove into a tree, breaking both of his girlfriend's legs. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. While he was serving time, his cousin broke into a home, raped a boy and was shot to death by the boy's father.
In prison, Slick Rick proved himself a model inmate, and he was granted work release to record his third album, 'Behind Bars.' But his troubles had just begun. As a resident alien convicted of a felony, he was targeted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which instigated proceedings to deport him to his native England in 1993. A New York State senator named David Paterson testified on Rick's behalf, and supporters collected 6,000 signatures protesting his deportation.
The case dragged on. Eventually, according to Rick, the INS told him they would no longer pursue his deportation. Then came 9/11. In June 2002, Rick was sleeping on board a Royal Carribean ocean liner in the Port of Miami, having just returned from performing on a weeklong fundraising cruise for black college students. He was rousted from his room by police officers, who escorted him to the Department of Homeland Security. Slick Rick spent the next 17 months bouncing around the Florida detention system, where conditions were so poor that he couldn't get a replacement for his eye patch. Eventually, the patch fell apart.
Though he was finally released from his immigration nightmare, the INS continues to push its case against Slick Rick. In May 2008, David Paterson, now governor of New York, issued a pardon for the rapper's conviction for attempted murder. "I've spent more time in prison not for committing the crime but for fighting to stay in America," Slick Rick recently told a Florida newspaper. Though he's lived through quite a story, the storytelling rapper has no immediate plans to record any new material.