- SLICK RICK: Weaves a great tale.
“La-di-da-di, we like to party / We don't cause trouble, we don't bother nobody / We're just some men that's on the mic / And when we rock upon the mic we rock the mic right.” If you can read those lines without breaking out your coolest, smoothest voice, you were either born too early or too late. Correct the wrong fate dealt you and go, quick-like, to YouTube.
You're searching for Friday night's headliners at Revolution, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, two of early hip-hop's most bizarre characters. The former is a beatbox pioneer, widely regarded as the first to make music with his mouth, mimicking drums and other effects with unbelievable accuracy. The latter is an eye-patch-wearing London-born, Bronx-raised rapper with an affinity for more gold jewelry than Mr. T.
And you're looking, in particular, for their 1985 song “La-Di-Da-Di.” With it and its (equally awesome) A-side “The Show,” the two made rap fun and cartoonishly weird in a way it wasn't before — Doug E., of course, with his sound effects, and Rick with a hint of a British accent, a singsong cadence and knack for weaving a tale that earned him, duly, a reputation as rap's greatest storyteller.
“La-Di-Da-Di” isn't really about much. For much of the song, Rick raps about getting ready in the morning. But he has a keen sense of narrative detail — he brushes his “gold teeth,” and uses Oil of Olay because his “skin gets pale” — and he's always employing other voices (memorably of women) and sound effects (a lusty yawn comes early in the song).
The duo didn't stay together long. Doug E. Fresh went on to cut a single for “The Ghostbusters II” soundtrack, collaborate with Living Colour and Prince and record the theme song for the Knicks. Slick Rick released one of hip-hop's landmark albums, “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick,” in 1988; but in early 1990, he shot his cousin — who'd made threats on his life — and ended up serving some five years in prison for attempted murder. Upon his release, he put out a vastly underrated album, “The Art of Storytelling”; collaborated with Outkast and then spent several years battling with INS over deportation proceedings. New York Gov. David Patterson finally intervened last year and gave Slick Rick a full pardon, which allowed him to remain in the country and perform shows like the one on Friday night.
The concert, which is be hosted by actress Vivica Fox (“Independence Day,” “Kill Bill”), is a birthday celebration for Chris Bowen, the man behind One Stone Productions, easily the biggest promotional outfit in Central Arkansas.
Bowen, who was born in Kingston and moved to Little Rock in 1994 to be a music minister, first started booking shows in 1998, often with his group, One Stone Reggae Band, in the bill. His events — like Divas on the Rock and Reggae on the River — have become known for the tag line, “grown and sexy,” where no one under 25 is admitted and a strict dress code is employed.
Last year, Bowen had big success with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. Now, after Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, he's got Mint Condition and Joe coming to Robinson Auditorium on June 10, and he's working to get Patti LaBelle and Ron Isley and the Isley Brothers to town. A brick and mortar club could be in the cards sometime before this fall, too, Bowen says.
Friday, he'll be busy celebrating — he's turning 39 — in the VIP section of Revolution, where he says there'll be champagne service all night (poured by models) and complimentary hors d'ouevres, including Jamaican jerk wings.