Heds and Dreds: Slick Rick The Yardie

Words by Jesse Serwer, Photo by Janette Beckman—

Slick Rick Bally Shoes and Kangol

Slick Rick is easily one of the greatest rappers of Jamaican or Caribbean extraction. Unlike some of his yardie bredren, though, Rick didn’t make many overtures towards reggae or dancehall during his career: the style icon’s chief contribution to the Jamericanization of hip-hop was introducing yardman fashion to hip-hop in the form of Kangols, Clarks and Bally shoes. (Yep, young Ricky D. was rocking Wallabees years before Wu-Tang lionized the comfy British kicks). That and the “Children’s Story” beat, later used in one of the greatest dancehall remixes ever, Capleton’s “Tour.”

But if you pay close attention to the Ruler’s catalog you’ll catch a few subtle nods to his Jamaican roots on tunes like “Hey Young World.” A more explicit homage to yaad can be found on The  theRuler’s Back (1991) tune “Moses,” which features the Rickster dropping some Old Testament-inspired lyrics over a sample of Alton Ellis’ highly slept-on “Sunday Coming.” Get familiar below—and happy 48th birthday, Slick Rick.

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