Ricky “Slick Rick” Martin Lloyd Walters scored a victory today [Friday, April 15] when he became an American citizen after an astounding 23-year legal process. The English-born rapper and performer was sworn in at an official ceremony alongside dozens of other new citizens in New York.
“I am so proud of this moment – and so honored to finally become an American citizen,” said Slick Rick in a statement. “This has been a long time coming for me, and I am relieved to finally put this long chapter behind me. I want to thank everyone – my family, friends and fans – who have supported me and stuck by me over these 23 years. I am truly blessed – and stay tuned, I will have more to announce soon.”
In 1990, at the height of his career, Slick Rick received a prison sentence for the self-defense shooting of his cousin (who was hired as a bodyguard by Rick’s mother/manager at the time, and ultimately became a family menace) during which a bystander was injured. He received a rare pardon in 2008 from then-New York Governor David A. Paterson who recognized Rick’s stellar conduct, rehabilitation and contribution to his community. The pardon was celebrated by Rick’s family and fans as well as public figures including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Russell Simmons, Chris Rock, Will Smith, among others.
After his release, Slick Rick was repeatedly threatened with deportation, and spent additional years in a deportation lock up, despite never having trouble with the law again. His citizenship will now allow him to stay in the country with family, while also traveling overseas for his career. Rick will become a duel citizen by retaining his U.K. Citizenship.
Slick Rick moved with his family to the Bronx when he was 11 years old, where he became a legal resident. His music career took off (just out of high school at 18 years old) when Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew featured him, then known as MC Ricky D, on the Hip Hop classics “The Show” and “La-Di-Da-Di,” introducing Rick to the world and marking him as “the greatest story teller.”
Between his trademark storytelling rap style, British accent, eye-patch (worn due to an injury he sustained as a child), Kangol hat, layers of gold chains, rings and stylish suits, he was an overnight sensation. Rick’s debut album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (Def Jam) was #1 on the R&B /Hip Hop chart and featured some of his biggest hits, “Children’s Story,” “Teenage Love,” and “Hey Young World.” It followed with The Ruler’s Back (1991), Behind Bars (1994) and The Art of Storytelling (1999).
Slick Rick is the most sampled rapper – over 600 times – and his work has been referenced in over 35 songs from the early 1990s to present day by recording artists such as Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, Pitbull, will.i.am., Amy Winehouse and Big Sean. Slick Rick has also acted and cameoed in 10 movies and videos. He has four Billboard 200 records and 14 Top 100 Singles worldwide.