Filed under: //blogs.blackvoices.com/category/black-music-month/” rel=”tag”>Black Music Month
Although Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh may be known as solo artists today, the two rappers solidified their status as hip-hop s when they joined forces in the mid-1980s. To this day, the former has one of rap’s most unique lyrical deliveries and inimitable sartorial styles. (He still wears truck jewelry and an eye-patch when he performs.) The latter still is a master beatboxer and is considered the genre’s ultimate crowd pleaser.
As members of the Get Fresh Crew along with two DJs Chill Will and Barry B, London-born Rick Walters (then known as MC Ricky D) and Barbados native Douglas Davis (aka Doug E. Fresh) linked up to record two of rap’s most enduring party anthems.
The first song, “La Di, Da Di,” gained popularity when Doug, the self-proclaimed ‘The Original Human Beatbox,’ enlisted Ricky to add his story rhymes over his uncanny ability to vocally mimic drum machines beats and other sound effects into a microphone. The partners performed the track – on which Rick tells a detailed comical tale about getting propositioned by an unlikely cougar – at live shows, creating a huge buzz even before they wound up recording it in 1985.
Another single, ‘The Show,’ which sampled the ‘Inspector Gadget’ theme song, became an even bigger hit, reaching number four on the R&B charts that year. The two songs immediately made Ricky D a fan favorite. He admitted to ‘Insomniac’ magazine that the attention he got from those records tested their relationship.
“It might of put a little bit of a strain on the relationship, because I was a guest on his ship,” Rick said. “I had received such major attention and then the problem of the money, as far as it’s your ship why should I get more than you. I think is was best that I branched off in my own way to avoid any conflict.”
As a result, Ricky D embarked on a solo career, changing his stage name to Slick Rick and signing to the Russell Simmons-led Def Jam Records. But it took another three years before the rapper would release his debut album, ‘The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.’
The album proved to be worth the wait as it was jam-packed with great narratives and some devilishly salacious rhymes all in his unique quasi-British accent. Tracks like ‘Children’s Story,’ ‘Hey Young World,’ ‘Mona Lisa,’ and ‘Teenage Love’ were proof that Rick wasn’t just into gratuitous sextalk, but had emerged as hip-hop’s best storyteller with songs that detailed realistic urban struggles, promoted dreaming big and touched on the joys and pains of relationships.
That same year, Doug E. Fresh, released his second album, ‘The World’s Greatest Entertainer,’ but was overshadowed by Slick Rick’s debut. (Doug’s first LP, 1987′s ‘Oh, My God!,’ featured most of his showpieces, like ‘Play This Only at Night’ and ‘All the Way to Heaven.’) The sophomore featured hits such as ‘Rising to the Top’ and ‘Cut That Zero’, two songs that helped cement his playboy persona. But after that album, Doug’s career began to stall. He had moderate hits in the ’90s including call-and-response party-starter, ‘I-ight (Alright)’ and ‘Freaks,’ on which he mostly beatboxes while pint-sized dancehall phenom Lil Vicious rhymes in a melodic Jamaican patois.
Rick’s career took a hit too when he served jail time for his involvement in a shooting, and subsequently faced deportation charges. Despite his legal troubles, he released two hastily crafted albums – ‘The Ruler’s Back’ (1991) and ‘Behind Bars’ (1994). But it wasn’t until 1999, when his comeback album ‘The Art of Storytelling’ really saw Rick fulfill his early potential.
These days, both Doug and Rick are regarded as two of hip-hop’s best ever entertainers and regularly perform their hits separately and together on spot tour dates. Doug has even inspired a dance craze and song ‘Teach Me How to Dougie’ by the Los Angeles rap crew, Cali Swag District.
Influenced…Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, Nas, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Outkast, Mos Def, Cali Swag District, Ludacris, Raekwon, Chamillionaire, MF DOOM, Eminem, etc.
Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story’
Doug E. Fresh’s ‘Keep Rising to the Top’
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