The 5 Most Underrated Def Jam Albums

Categories: Slick Rick

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YouTube screen capture
Slick Rick was still making classics...in '99?!
This Thursday, Def Jam celebrates its 30th anniversary with a star-studded live show at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. It was a short three decades ago at New York University's Weinstein Dorms where Vincent Gallo introduced Russell Simmons to Rick Rubin and launched what would become hip-hop's longest-tenured label. But while its most heralded releases have found their place among the genre's most treasured, there's a number of gems in the Def Jam catalog that seldom get mentioned in these retrospectives. To right this wrong, we've named five unsung Def Jam masterpieces.

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Paul Simon (2) Takes On Slick Rick (15) As Round One Of Our Quintessential New York Musician Tournament Continues

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The Round of 64 for Sound of the City's own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—is under way, and you get to help choose who makes it to Round Two. Today we pit Garfunkel's better half Paul Simon against the "Children's Story" teller Slick Rick. Check out the arguments in favor of each contestant below, then cast your ballot at the bottom of the page.

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Live: Slick Rick Discusses The Great Adventures Then Performs At The Paradise

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via BlowHipHopTV
Slick Rick
Paradise Theater
Tuesday, September 27

Better than: Date night at the movies.

Last time I caught up with Slick Rick, it was a family affair. Performing at a Crotona Park Summerstage event with DJ Brucie B (some 20 blocks south from last night's venue, the magnificent Paradise Theater), there were enough kids around for a night of barbeque and old school rap that Rick was able to sing "Hey Young World" and really mean it. Last night, however, was a chance for moms and dads around the Bronx to put their babysitters to work. "Make some noise if you're over 30!" the house emcee screamed before running off a list of '80s reference points, from rap acts to Sunday-morning cartoons. Needless to say, the place got loud.

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Live: Brucie B And Slick Rick Stir Up Memories At Crotona Park


Slick Rick w/ DJ Brucie B
Crotona Park
Tuesday, July 12

Better than: Any other reunion, formal or not, that I've been to.

When I crossed the Cross Bronx Expressway and arrived outside the makeshift stage that was about to support two of hip-hop's G.O.A.T.s, I realized I had arrived too late. No, neither Brucie B nor Slick Rick had begun performing, but for many at Crotona Park—those who looked like they were having the most fun—those performances would only serve to close a perfect summer evening of grilling, reminiscing with old friends and family, and maybe drinking a nutcracker or two on the side.

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The Ten Best Hometown Productions By Large Professor

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Large Professor cuts an outside figure in the New York hip-hop scene these days. As a producer who also happens to rap in an endearingly economical manner, he's integral to any overview of hip-hop's storied golden era--he tutored under Paul C, contributed production input to Eric B & Rakim songs, scored a classic with his own group Main Source's Breaking Atoms, and helped kick-start the career of a [then] Nasty Nas when Queensbridge's golden son was still rocking a band-aid over his cheek in promotional pics. But since his late-'80s emergence, Large Pro's solo career has unfortunately faltered, with his intended solo debut The LP caught up in label politics and long-delayed, and his subsequent statement on Matador, First Class, resonating limply at best. As a producer, Large Pro has never caught a particularly pop break either--unlike, say, DJ Premier he's never been handed an opportunity to gallivant with a feisty chanteuse. Instead, he's maintained a dedication to working with grass-roots New York rap talent as if the very idea of cracking the mainstream is absurd.

Large Pro's newest project, the album Still On The Hustle, reunites him with fellow Queens resident Neek The Exotic--a pairing last heard on 2003's Exotic Is Raw set, for which Large Pro handled around half of the production duties. It's a release unlikely to trouble those whose RSS feeds frolic above rap's underground layer, but it's a collaboration that allows Large Pro to continue to dwell in a hip-hop world of his own creation. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago, he was late because he was cycling around Flushing Meadows Park while listening to his iPod--the impression given was that he'd prefer to produce at his own leisurely pace and on his own terms rather than pucker up and play the major-label game. It's a stance that should be applauded. With that in mind, here are ten commendable hometown anthems produced--as opposed to remixed, which would be a whole other lengthy listicle--by Flushing's finest self-proclaimed "live guy with glasses."

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