Slick Rick foreshadowed and epitomized the pimpster attitude of many rappers during the late '80s and early '90s, with gold chains, his trademark eye-patch, and recordings that were no less misogynistic -- "Treat Her Like a Prostitute," for example, became an underground hit in 1988, though it was justly criticized for its view of women. His 1989 album, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, was a certified-platinum classic, but before he could record a follow-up, Slick Rick was arrested for attempted murder. Out on bail thanks to Def Jam Records' label head Russell Simmons, Rick recorded The Ruler's Back in three weeks and released the album in 1991. After his release from prison two years later, he recorded Behind Bars for a 1994 release.
Born to Jamaican parents in South Wimbledon, London, on January 14, 1965, Ricky Walters was blinded by broken glass as an infant and took to wearing an eyepatch from an early age. He emigrated with his family to the Bronx in the late '70s and attended the La Guardia High School of Music & Art, where he became friends with future rapper Dana Dane. The two formed the Kangol Crew, and began performing in hip-hop battles around the city. At one 1984 battle in the Bronx, Rick met Doug E. Fresh, and began playing with his Get Fresh Crew (which also included Chill Will and Barry Bee). Fresh's number four R&B hit, "The Show," exploded just one year later, and MC Ricky D. -- as Rick was then known -- leaped to a solo contract two years later, after an acquaintance with Russell Simmons led to his signing to Def Jam Records, the biggest label in hip-hop at the time.