Slick Rick, The Art of Storytelling

RTB Rewind: Slick Rick 'The Art of Storytelling'

RTB Rewind: Slick Rick 'The Art of Storytelling'

Published Thu, May 25, 2023 at 12:15 PM EDT

Behind Bars

Much of Slick Rick's discography after his 1988 full-length debut, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, was directly affected by his five year stint in prison that ended in 1997. Two of the five years of Rick's sentence were for the 1990 attempted murder of his former bodyguard Mark Plummer (who was also his cousin) and the remaining three were for problems that the London born MC had with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Rick's sophomore album, The Rulers Back, was released in July 1991, and much of it was recorded while he was on a furlough from prison. His third album, 1994's Behind Bars, was recorded while Rick was on a 1993 work release, and much the project was produced around just his vocals and older unreleased material.

Slick Rick & OutKast

Although the singles, "We Turn It On" featuring Doug E. Fresh, and "Frozen" featuring Raekwon, were released from The Art of Storytelling, it was the Jazzy Pha-produced "Street Talkin'" featuring Big Boi from OutKast that truly stood out as the best single. With its video featuring Slick Rick being released from prison and later trading his gold jewelry for the then popular platinum, "Street Talkin'" is actually one of the standouts on the album. Rick's signature "sing songy" cadence on the hook combined with Big Boi and Rick's verses made for a nice comeback for Rick.

The Art of Storytelling

With production by DJ Clark Kent, Kid Capri, S&S, Rashad Smith and Poke & Tone, 1999's The Art of Storytelling truly felt like a family member just came home from prison. Released less than two years after Rick's release, the album features tributes in the form of skits from the likes of Run, Ed Lover, Redman, Q-Tip and Peter Gunz. Nas, Snoop Dogg, Canibus, Raekwon, Doug E. Fresh and Big Boi are all featured on the project. "Me & Nas Bring It To You Hardest," "I Own America," "King Piece In The Chess Game," and "Trapped In Me" are all stand out tracks on the project, and "Adults Only" is an interesting song that is probably the only of its kind in Hip-Hop.

The Art of Storytelling is Rick's highest charting album, peaking at number 8 on the Billboard 200, and number 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

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