On Friday (February 3), the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted a pre-Grammy event in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop and of Slick Rick’s recognition ahead of the 65th Annual Grammy Awards.
While posing with the legendary British MC, Busta Rhymes encouraged those in attendance to acknowledge how significant the moment was for the culture.
“This the Godfather,” Busta said as Slick Rick locked on. “Lifetime Achievement Grammy, the win is secured. Say that shit in unison.”
On January 5, the Recording Academy released its list of Special Merit Awards honorees, who were set to be recognized during a separate Grammy Week ceremony that also took place on Friday.
During the event Slick Rick received a 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award alongside Bobby McFerrin, Nirvana, Ma Rainey, Nile Rodgers, The Supremes, and Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of the group Heart.
In addition to the seven Lifetime Achievement Awards, three Trustee Awards, two Technical Grammy Awards and the Grammy for Best Song For Social Change were all handed out during the Special Merit Awards Ceremony.
“Each creator on this list has made an impact on our industry — from technical to creative achievements — representing the breadth of music’s diverse community,” said the Academy’s CEO Harvey Mason jr. in a statement. “We’re excited to celebrate this group of legends that continues to inspire and shape the music world.”
During the ASCAP celebration, MC Lyte also gave Slick Rick his dues while addressing the crowd gathered at the outdoor event.
“To be in his existence always is so weird,” she said. “Whenever I come within feet of Mr. The Ruler, Slick Rick, I feel like a little kid. And I feel in a place of humility. Because I studied his words.”
In addition to his multi-platinum discography, which includes four albums released between 1988 and 1999, Slick Rick’s legacy has been extended thanks to over 1,000 samples of his work, namely the classics “La-Di-Da-Di” and “The Show.”
Yet despite his prominence, the Lifetime Achievement Award is the first time the Recording Academy has formally recognized the UK-born artist, as he has never won a Grammy.
The legendary rapper has received his fair share of accolades in the world of Hip Hop and beyond, some as recently as this year. In 2015, Slick Rick was immortalized in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, thanks to a donation he and his wife made to the museum from his personal collection of jewelry and Hip Hop memorabilia.
In March of last year, after the “Children’s Story” rapper shouted out Nicki Minaj as part of Women’s History Month, the Barbz leader returned the favor. The Young Money Queen took to Twitter to salute The Ruler while revealing his 1988 track “Mona Lisa” — taken from his landmark album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick — was the first rap song she learned growing up.
A few months later, Pharrell also paid homage to Slick Rick during his inaugural Joopiter Auction sale, and said he wouldn’t be where he was without the rapper’s influence.
In a video posted to his Instagram, Pharrell stood alongside the elder statesman and called himself a “crumb” compared to the Hip Hop royalty standing beside him.