Slick Rick

“C’mon, Wake Up, Have Some Understanding”: Thoughts On A Ruler

One week ago, something happened in the world of Hip-Hop that shouldn’t have happened. It flat out, categorically should not have happened. However, it did happen, and it was rewarded with tons of press and with bloggers and major media writers alike reporting on it – but for reasons that lend more toward click counts and link shares than for actually speaking on the significance of the event itself.

So what was this event, and what happened? Slick Rick got booed at a recent halftime show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

When referring to Slick Rick, Ricky D, Rick The Ruler, or what ever moniker you wish to call him, be sure to add the word ‘legend’ to your statement. He is a legend. There will be no backhanded compliment here. I am not speaking on his legendary status as a way to set him up for a fall as did others last week. No matter what anyone had to say about his performance at the Barclays Center, he is still and forever will remain a legend.

There were several accusations hurled at Ricky, up to and including that he was drunk, or high, or even that he was not mentally adept enough to still rhyme. Now, while any of these things have the possibility of being true, there was just as much of a possibility that they were false. He just as easily could have had the flu, had some bad fish for dinner, or an inner ear infection. My point is that, yes, this was news, but not for the reasons one might think. There is a deeper story here.

It seems that most times when things like this happen, those in the media who know it shouldn’t be happening take to Twitter or Facebook and say a little something snarky, either arguing for or against the event that took place versus taking to their respective platforms to give a meaningful explanation of the significance of the event. But why? Why do people virtually co-sign these events with their silence, thus helping to perpetuate this current climate of disrespect? If the media was using its platform responsibly, so-called journalists would discuss it as more than just a rumor, or an in-case-you-didn’t-hear-it-yet feature. They would get the testicular fortitude to have these uncomfortable discussions, because that is what they are supposed to be doing. Otherwise they are just Twitter fodder in long form, with no responsibility to the readers/viewers/listeners that they are supposed to be serving.

That fateful night, Slick Rick had just performed “Hey Young World”, and the crowd responded with the type of disrespect that the song speaks out against. This irony seemed lost on many reporters. It’s simple. There is a line that should not be crossed. Things like booing a legend could increasingly cost our culture in the long run if the media doesn’t do its part by calling foul when something is foul. You will start to see your favorite legends perform less and less if the level of respect for them as pioneers of the game is not apparent to them while they are on stage.

Our legends are entitled to a tough show here or there. They have sacrificed enough, and paid the dues necessary to allow the rest of us to have Hip-Hop in the first place. Their due card has long been stamped ‘final payment.’ And if we’re telling the truth, there are plenty of recent artists that don’t get on the stage unless they are drunk, high, or too mentally incapacitated to rhyme. But those artists tend to find applause instead of jeers. And their planet of origin is seldom questioned.

Maybe Slick Rick was even more spot on than we realized when he said, “Society’s A Weak Excuse For A Man.” It sure is, Ricky. Now our media brethren, we ask, what are we going to do about it?

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