Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Congrats to hip-hip pioneer Ricky Martin Lloyd Walters aka Slick Rick. He became an official American citizen on Friday (April 15) after a 23-year protected legal process.  The English-born rapper and performer was sworn in at an official ceremony alongside dozens of other new citizens in New York.

In 1990, at the height of his career, Slick Rick received a prison sentence for the self-defense shooting of his cousin during which a bystander was injured. He received a rare pardon in 2008 from then-New York Governor David A. Paterson who recognized Rick’s stellar conduct, rehabilitation and contribution to his community. The pardon was celebrated by Rick’s family and fans as well as public figures including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Russell Simmons, Chris Rock, Will Smith, among others.

After his release, Slick Rick was repeatedly threatened with deportation, and spent additional years in a deportation lock up, despite never having trouble with the law again. His citizenship will now allow him to stay in the country with family, while also traveling overseas for his career. Rick will become a duel citizen by retaining his U.K. Citizenship.

“I am so proud of this moment – and so honored to finally become an American citizen,” said Slick Rick. “This has been a long time coming for me, and I am relieved to finally put this long chapter behind me. I want to thank everyone – my family, friends and fans – who have supported me and stuck by me over these 23 years. I am truly blessed – and stay tuned, I will have more to announce soon.”

Slick Rick is best known for his lyrical magic on the rap classics, “The Show” and “La-Di-Da-Di.”

Photo Credit: