Slick Rick :: Q&A

Music and words are like a marriage to me; it’s all about the chemistry.

Richard Martin Lloyd Walters, aka Slick Rick, is one of the world’s greatest lyrical storytellers. Born in Mitcham, south-west London, Slick Rick is an artist of English-Jamaican decent that crosses societal, cultural, political and social boundaries.

Slick Rick has courted both approbation and controversy. Spending five years in prison for attempted murder, a second life chance presented itself in the form an unconditional of pardon from the Governor of New York. In a more recent acknowledgement of personal / cultural contribution, Rick received a humanitarian award for services mentoring kids about violence.

The Ruler’s music has been sampled numerous of times by artists such as The Beastie Boys, Miley Cyrus, and the Notorious B.I.G., whilst been referenced in songs by Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, whilst directly influencing the likes of Snoop Dogg, Nas and Outkast et al.

Blinded in the eye from broken glass as an infant inadvertently defined his iconic eye-patch look, Slick Rick has gained acclaim from a fashion world that initially snubbed him.

I was lucky enough to catch up with The Ruler, to learn a little bit about his world.

Q) How has being London born shaped you into the artist you are today?

Yes, absolutely. I breathe British DNA from head to toe. My diet, taste buds and education, all from Mitchum-Surrey. I lived in the UK up until the age 11. That plus 60’s, 70’s London culture eventually meshed and mixed with USA culture shaped me.

Q) How do you gestate ideas? What is your starting point and how does the process unfold?

I build from melodies that I hear/envision which guides my mood and direction. Music and words are like a marriage to me, it’s all about the chemistry.

Key fundamentals are interesting avant-garde storytelling and visualisation. Always remember that original creative ingredients are more important than the music.

Q) What are the key fundamentals of storytelling in your opinion?

Key fundamentals are interesting avant-garde storytelling and visualisation. It is always key to remember that original creative ingredients are more important than the music.

Q) Your music seems to have a positive message; do you think your music plays a wider purpose for those who enjoy it i.e wellbeing?

Natural + positivity is easily embraced, like the order of growth (flowers for instance).

Q) How do you think fashion and music intersect and overlap? What are your views on classic style vs contemporary trending style?

Fashion and music are integral components of art. In my eyes they bounce off each other/ complement each other. Classic vs contemporary is all about learning from the past and future.

My motto is, if you enjoy it, they’ll enjoyed it. Being creative is all about letting your gift breathe and flow freely, and not controlling it out of fear.

Q) Do you think about context when creating music? I.e. what your audiences / critics think of it?

My motto is, if you enjoy it, they’ll enjoyed it. Being creative is all about letting your gift breathe and flow freely, and not controlling it out of fear. Art is the ultimate form of expression. Music in general is the melting pot and evolving voice of the modern.

Q) How has digital changed the way you create music? And in your opinion how will digital shape the future for you?

Digital makes releasing music simpler, however, not all generations are into digital, so it is best to have music out on all platforms so that your audience is not isolate.  

Technology is the new future with spreading music. etc. But there will always be folks who are passionate about vinyl, cassettes, etc.

Q) How did you find your own voice with music initially? Where did you draw upon for inspiration?

Stories & humour more than battle raps. Inspiration from my environment that surrounded me, UK, Jamaica and Bronx, New York.

Q) How do you want your music to go down in history and be remembered?

The spirit of the late 80’s to present day filled with soul and imagination.

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Special thanks to Helen Bazuaye for the edits.

Banner photography: Mike Piscitelli

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