The other day, I had the news on for some background noise and I heard one of the reporters say “Here we go”. I know they probably said it in a forced dropped octave newscaster voice, but anytime someone says that phrase, I hear Slick Rick’s voice saying it and like a reflex I go on:

“Once upon a time not long ago

When people wore pajamas and lived life slow”

By the time I caught myself, I was already down the Old School rabbit hole. I started thinking how much has changed since “Children’s Story” was originally released, yet how much those two lines fit in Covid Times and how I need to start every discussion I have with this lyric now.

There is so much to unpack about Slick Rick and “Children’s Story”. Slick Rick is one of the best story rappers of all time, and “Children’s Story” is justifiably sampled/covered and referenced 30+ years later, but the track is a story about looting and shooting presented as a Children’s story. Sure it’s a cautionary tale about the downward spiral that can result from making bad decisions, but how many 4 year olds need to be scared straight? I know, I’m overthinking it.

“Just another case about the wrong path”

Then in 1990, in a case of do as I say and not as I do, Rick the Ruler was arrested and sent to prison for attempted murder of his cousin (although he claimed it was self-defense). After MC Ricky D was released from prison in 1997, he ended up spending the next decade in a vicious cycle of fighting deportation or being thrown in jail because he was a foreign national (British) with an attempted murder conviction on his record.

“And this is the way I have to end this story”

Unlike “Children’s Story”, Slick Rick’s story has a happier ending. Besides making dope music and having a lasting influence over artists and pop culture, things finally worked out for MC Ricky D. In 2008, David Paterson (then the Governor of New York) gave Slick Rick a full and unconditional pardon for the attempted murder charges. Then in 2016 Slick Rick became a US Citizen

“Knock ‘em out the Box Rick”

Knock ‘em out the Box Set, Rick. On Record Store Day 2017, Slick Rick and Get on Down released an actual “Children’s Story” Story Book along with the 7” Vinyl and CD. We actually found a new copy on Ebay. You can snag it here.

“Good Night”


Bob James –“Nautilus”

*Technically it’s a replay not a sample, because Slick Rick played the baseline riff on a keyboard. Here’s Bob James listening to Children’s Story and talking about artists sampling him.

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