Slick Rick has always been known as a good storyteller, check his previous LP's for examples of this. 'The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick,' 'The Ruler's Back' and 'Behind Bars'(his previous LP's) I thought were all pretty dope. Admittedly, at points he didn't come off as well as we all know he can, however, he proved that he's got skills.
Now, fresh out of jail for a kind of stupid charge (check his profile in the profiles section for more details) Slick Rick is dropping his fourth LP on Def Jam entitled 'The Art Of Storytelling.' Now, most people know that he was on the Outkast remix of a track with the same title (maybe a slightly different spelling, but...), however, the LP of which had it's title changed from 'I Own America' to 'The Art Of Storytelling' does quite a lot of story-telling on this LP.
The LP begins with the 'Jail Skit' in which while having some of his tunes sung by other inmates, Ricky D is released from jail, I think Nas is one of the inmates, but anyway. This is quite a good introduction quickly followed by the controversial 'Kill Niggaz,' a track which for a long while I wasn't feeling, but it has grown on me. The thing that annoys me about this LP is what has been changed. I first heard 'Kill Niggaz' back in July of 1998, now, it has been altered unnecessarily, and that isn't the only thing that was changed upon this LP, though this alteration made the least amount of difference. Other alterations (which had a negative effect) were on 'I Own America' (the former title track) and 'King Piece In The Chess Game'(formerly known as 'Underwear's Wet'). 'I Own America,' the original was really tight due to the fact that there was a selection of beats which complimented Rick's voice and rhymes perfectly, but, for whatever reason, they have been removed from the LP's version with another selection of beats which don't do as many favours for Slick Rick as the others did. Another really weird and somewhat stupid move is what they did with 'Underwear's Wet.' This track along with 'I Sparkle' was released on 12". Now the changes that were done were they removed the original hook and added Canibus to create a new hook and drop a few lines. Now how is this bad ? Well, firstly, everybody knows that Canibus is very, very skilled, and most fans of his will hear this, notice that he drops some nice lines, wets your appetite but because he rhymes only a few lines, leaves you wanting more and be damn annoyed. I think that if Slick would have left the original on then he would have got me enjoying the LP slightly more. Either way, the track minus the void left by Canibus dropping practically no lines is quite good.
You've got some nicely produced tracks here. DJ S&S laces the beat for 'Impress The Kid' and does a good job. Other producers include DJ Clark Kent, Kid Capri, Jermaine Dupri and Rashad Smith.
Most people will have heard at least three tracks off of the LP which have been previously released on other LP's/Soundtracks. Those being 'Fresh' featuring Jermaine Dupri, a track which was first seen on Jermaine's LP; 'Life In 1472,' 'Unify' featuring Snoop which was previously released as a single and was also seen on Kid Capri's 'Soundtrack To The Streets' and the previously mentioned 'Impress The Kid,' which was also seen on the 'Rush Hour' soundtrack. Not to mention the previously released singles. Before I copped this LP properly, I'd already heard about half of it.
Contrary to most Hip Hop LP's most of the LP actually is, as the title says, music which shows 'The Art Of Storytelling.' Of course, all of these tracks have Slick Rick being extremely cocky, but that's the personality which people like. 'Who Rotten 'Em' is a great example of Slick Rick telling stories well. He talks about himself being a slave, I won't spoil the track, but it's well rhymed. Other examples include '2 Way Street,' a track which has him telling a story about almost cheating on his wife, but, he just can't do it. And another interesting track is 'Adults Only.' This track could be transcribed and changed into a porno movie it's so descriptive. Basically it's Rick talking about meeting and having sex with various ladies. He also describes how he loves anal sex "So girls / When we kiss and cuddle / Aint no way to put it subtle / When I want the butthole." Very descriptive but you younguns better realize that as the track states, it's for adults only!
There's also various cocky tracks by him; 'Run This' being one of my favourite ones. It has some nice scratching going on in the background and basically works well. Other really nice cuts which have Rick being full of himself include 'Frozen' which features Raekwon and 'Me And Nas Bring It To You The Hardest' featuring Nas which has a nice line by Slick where he says "Mice like / What up Rick / You can have my cheese kid."
Overall, Slick Rick returns with a pretty good album. Though it does have a few negative features which lower it's quality, those features are out-weighed by the positive ones. Definitely check out 'The Art Of Storytelling'!