Slick Rick Warehouse Live April 11, 2014
Legends don't need a fancy stage, dazzling lighting or flamboyant dance routines. And they definitely do not need a 20-piece entourage to stand with them onstage doing absolutely nothing. All a legend needs is a little bit of your time and a platform on which to showcase his or her talent.
A legend of that caliber coolly strolled into Warehouse Live on Friday night, bringing with him 30 years of experience in the hip-hop game, with a handful of the most iconic rhymes and rhythms ever to be pressed on wax in his back pocket.
Slick Rick. Ricky Dee. The Ruler. The man with the eye patch who carries his own weight in gold around his neck. He's a shining example of what a storyteller is supposed to be: descriptive, enticing, understandable and relatable. No wonder so many rappers point to this man as an inspiration -- he simply has "it."
There is definitely a certain duality to Slick Rick's persona. How can this man be so loud and subtle at the same time? He walks and talks with confidence, and yet portrays himself as extremely humble and appreciative. He's not as animated as, say, Busta Rhymes, but he allows his words to paint those pictures in the listener's head.
Rick's mate behind the turntables, DJ Kaos, did an outstanding job buttering up the crowd with old-school snippets of classics from Jay-Z, Geto Boyz, Tribe Called Quest, Heavy D, Big Daddy Kane, Onyx, LL Cool J, Biz Markie and many more. By the time Rick took the stage with "Mona Lisa," the hip-hop heads in the crowd had already orgasmed twice.
His voices! Every rapper has "a" voice, but this one has several. He raps with a mastery of vocabulary and street smarts that transport the listener into his world. Whether you have an active or retrained imagination, Slick Rick will give it a workout like no other.
"Go Slick Rick, go Slick Rick, go!" the crowd responded. Rick won them over before he had even transitioned into his second song on the set list, which was none other than the groundbreaking track "La-Di-Da-Di". Even DJ Kaos got involved as he substituted Doug E. Fresh's beatboxing with his own. Rick tested the audience several times to verify that they knew all of the lyrics, and for the first time of the night, he cracked a smile (everyone did, of course).
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He may not move or dance too much, but Rick has a reserved energy that fits his personality perfectly. Later in his set, he did extend his arms and do a few comic dances, albeit never moving more than a few feet from the center of the stage. What he lacks in movement he makes up for with his vibes. "Children's Story" and "Hey Young World" is played, and the memories continue to resurface.
Rick ends the night by asking the crowd if they prefer the "New School" or the "Old School" the most. "By your applause, which do you like the most?" he asked. Of course, on this night, with this demographic, Old School wins every time. Then he dropped what he says is his favorite Old School joint: "Jump Around" by House of Pain.
The crowd went wild, and the storyteller was pleased. The Ruler had left the building, and his kingdom rules supreme.
Personal Bias: I tried to dress up as Slick Rick once for Halloween. I bought the Kangol, fake gold chains and the eyepatch, but couldn't nail down the British accent, so I went as Fidel Castro instead (as if my Cuban is any better).
The Crowd: Way too small for a Friday night. They were hype, though.
Overheard In the Crowd: The opening comedian (sorry dude, I forgot your name and I lost your card) told lots of jokes about having sex with large women. And he does an impressive job singing Damien Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock."
Random Notebook Dump: One of the opening acts, @Acre_Music, asked us to follow him on Twitter. When I checked his profile, I seem to have blocked him some time ago when I was going through my "block-everyone-who-sends-you-unsolicited-music" phase. Sorry, dude, I unblocked you now. I enjoyed the "you don't know me, I be on my hustle" track that you finished with.
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