Slick Rick is among the honorees set to receive a 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award ahead of the upcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards.
On Thursday (January 5), the Recording Academy released its list of Special Merit Awards honorees, who will be recognized during a separate Grammy Week ceremony on February 4.
In addition to seven Lifetime Achievement Awards, three Trustee Awards, two Technical Grammy Awards and the Grammy for Best Song For Social Change will all be handed out during the Special Merit Awards Ceremony.
“The Academy is proud to celebrate this diverse slate of influential music people spanning numerous genres and crafts as our 2023 Special Merit Awards honorees,” said the Academy’s CEO Harvey Mason jr. in a statement.
“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,” he continued. “We’re excited to celebrate this group of legends next month that continues to inspire and shape the music world.”
Slick Rick “The Ruler” is being recognized alongside Bobby McFerrin, Nirvana, Ma Rainey, Nile Rodgers, The Supremes, and Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of the group Heart.
“To be receiving this honor is incredible,” Slick Rick told HipHopDX. “And to be in marvelous company with my fellow inductees is humbling. God is good. All the time!”
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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 will be the first time the Recording Academy formally recognizes 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, 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.
“Slicker than the guy w|da thing on his eye,” she wrote, referencing her Slick Rick bar on “Super Bass.” “If you only knew how much I love you. the 1st rap I ever learned was #MonaLisa. 1 day I rapped it to my mthr & when I got to the part about ‘a virgin?’ My mthr looked @ me like I lost my damn mind. I didn’t know what that meant.”
In October, 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.
“The reason why there is even an exhibition is because of Rick the Ruler,” Pharrell said. “I’m a crumb! I will always be a crumb to this guy right here. I learned what a Gucci link was because of this guy right here. I learned what a Cuban was because of this guy right here.”
While the Special Merit Awards Ceremony will not be televised, the 65th Annual Grammy Awards are set to air on Sunday, February 5 at 7:00 p.m. EST on CBS. This year’s broadcast will be hosted by Trevor Noah.