Help a Brother Out! Slick Rick Faces Deportation!

By shane

Okay, so he may not be your definition of "indie cool," but he IS The Ruler. Totally off topic here, but classic rap artist SLICK RICK needs our help. Ricky's currently sitting in an INS jail cell and likely to face deportation to a country he hasn't seen since he was 11 years old. Def Jam Records has set up a petition to get Rick bailed, and they're looking for signees. Once you hear the whole story, you'll want to lend your support. Click on "read more" to hear the whole scoop.

Here's the story in a nutshell:

Rick was born in England, while his parents were over there temporarily for job purposes. Because he was born and raised in England, that makes Rick a UK citizen.

In 1976, when Rick was 11, he and his parents relocated back to the States. His parents are US citizens, but Rick never bothered changing his British citizenship.

Rick quickly became a legendary artist in the exploding New York rap music scene, first as partners with Doug E. Fresh on the classic singles "La-Di-Da-Di" and "The Party," and then going solo with the seminal record, "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick."

Then it got ugly. In 1991, Rick was convicted of attempted second-degree murder after shooting his cousin during a dispute. Becoming one of the first big-name rap artists to face incarceration, Rick spent 5 years in prison before his release on good behavior.

Here's where the story becomes unbelievable. Federal law states that any non-citizen who serves more than 5 years in prison must face deportation. Rick served exactly 5 years and 12 days.

However, six months of Rick's prison stay was due to immigration issues, so in 1995, Rick won the right in court to stay in America.

He picked up the pieces of his life in New York. He married. He began raising a family. He went to the press and MTV and talked about the remorse he had for the shooting. He launched charitable work. And, after being championed by newer rap artists like Redman and Snoop Dogg, he re-started his career with a fantastic new album in 1999, "The Art of Storytelling." And this March, Rick was one of the very first inductees into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame.

In May of this year, Rick was booked to perform on the Tom Joyner Morning Show cruise ship, alongside performers like Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, and others. When the ship docked in Miami on June 1, Rick was surprised to be detained by INS agents and arrested for illegal entry into the States.

It turns out that after Rick won the right to stay in the US in 1995, the INS appealed the ruling... and won. Rick claims he was never informed of the appeal or the decision.

Rick's now been in an immigration holding cell since June, and the INS refuses to grant bail, claiming that the rapper is a "flight risk." The INS want to deport Rick back to England, a country he hasn't seen since he was 11 years old. It could be anywhere from three months to one year until Rick's case hits the courts, and the judges inexplicably continue to deny Rick's bail.

MANY leaders in the industry have sent letters on Rick's behalf to plead for his release, including Will Smith, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons.

Def Jam's newest attempt to appeal to the INS is the petition on their website, and we urge everyone who visits our site to extend their signature on this petition.

A personal note from Shane: This is injustice like I've seldom seen before. The man messed up... BAD. But he's served his time, and pretty much everything he's done since has shown that he's a rehabilitated guy. I'm not a huge fan of rap music, but I own everything that Slick Rick's ever put out - the man's a legend, and he deserves better than to sit in a jail full of illegal immigrants. When Rick was serving his original sentence, on a whim, I wrote him in prison asking for an autograph. I never expected to hear anything back, and I was absolutely shocked to find a hand-written letter from Rick in my mailbox the very next week - it's remained framed on my wall ever since. The guy hasn't seen England since the 70's, he has roots and a successful career in the States, and now we want to deport him for a crime he already spent half of the 90's in prison for? He's been a free man since 1996, and to reincarcerate him on a technicality is just plain cruel. Even if rap's not your thing, you've got to admit this is nuts. Please take the time to sign the petition and let the INS know that they're being ridiculous.