Last month, Slick Rick turned 50 years old. Today, The New York Times ran a profile on the revolutionary Bronx rapper as he passed the half-century mark. He is as unique as ever--always a few degrees left of his contemporaries, Rick recalls in vivid detail his formative years on Fordham Road, posited as an alternative to those locals commonly cited as hip-hop's birthplaces. (Of the Bronx thoroughfare, Rick says "They had stores with all the clothes, the sneakers, the jewelry. It was a good place to go and talk to girls. The whole pace was electric, and where there is electricity, there’s fun. And where there’s fun, that’s where kids want to be.”)

But the Great Adventures rapper wasn't ready to let his relationship with hip-hop be bronzed just yet. In his mind, the art form began as a potent social tool. “Hip-hop disrupted the order of things,” Rick said. “It was the pulpit, and if you put the right person in front of the pulpit, they can speak for the youth of the planet." As for its current state, though, he believes rap's practitioners have diverged. "Instead, it was altered and diluted. What you see now are performers who have been broken to fit into a mold. They are not going to disrupt the order of things.”

The Latin phrase that serves as The Bronx's motto translates roughly to 'Yield not to evil'; this is nothing if not a central credo of Rick's music. Despite his chronological age, Rick has stayed young and vital (“I don’t talk like a 50-year-old person"), with his features in the last handful of years focusing on contemporary issues in nuanced fashion--check his verse on Mos Def's "Auditorium," where he gives voice to "a young Iraqi kid." "Sometimes miserable old people depend on happy young people to give them a sense of purpose," he says. "Not me. Of course not!”

[The New York Times]

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