Album: Behind Bars
Label: Def Jam
Prince Paul:“I got a call from Russell. Def Jam had everybody producing for Slick Rick because he had a small window of time when he was able to record. He was working on two albums, recording as much material as he possibly could for them. They didn’t know what his outcome was and I’m pretty sure Russell invested a lot of money in him.
Slick Rick just rhymed effortlessly. He rhymed like it was just part of his anatomy.
“I remember he was recording at a studio in upstate New York. I came into the studio with some music and Slick Rick was like, ‘Okay, cool, that one. Okay, yeah, yeah, let’s do that one.’ And they were two songs I liked: one was ‘Behind Bars,’ and the other one was this song called ‘Gambling,’ which I still have.
“We recorded ‘Behind Bars,’ and I was super excited, man. To me, Slick Rick is just dope. Probably out of all the MCs I’ve worked with, and not to discredit anyone because they’re all dope, but what really made Slick Rick dope is the fact that he just rhymed effortlessly.
“You know certain singers like Luther Vandross, he can just talk something out, and he’s able to sing so well? That’s basically how Slick Rick rhymed. He rhymed like it was just part of his anatomy. It wasn’t a rappity rapping. He’ll just be like, ‘Okay, let’s…’ and mumbles. ‘Give me another track…’ then he’ll just rap again.
“He’ll just lace them down, sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee in one hand. So I’m like, ‘This is crazy’ He had book in one hand, and a cup of coffee in another, sitting on a stool, rhyming. No moving the arms, no shaking the head, it was just incredible. That really blew my mind, because I never saw anybody do that. To him it was almost like, ‘Eh, another day at the job. Next beat.’ [Laughs.]
Warren G was hot, and I was not, Russell made an executive decision, ‘You know, Warren G, ‘Regulate,’ let’s have him produce for Slick Rick’s comeback.’ I’m not sure, but I’m just guessing what they thought. I got pushed to the side.
“So I did that record. I didn’t know when it was going to come out. Finally, ‘Behind Bars’ comes out and I’m getting excited. The date when I made it would’ve been the perfect time to come out. Then it started sounding dated after a while.
“I guess since Warren G was hot, and I was not, Russell made an executive decision, ‘You know, Warren G, ‘Regulate,’ let’s have him produce for Slick Rick’s comeback.’ I’m not sure, but I’m just guessing what they thought. I got pushed to the side.
“I got writer’s credit, and I got my publishing on it. But it kind of hurts because I put in the footwork and legwork to travel to that studio, spend time, and do the real gutsy recording part of it, just to get an acapella out. You know?”