by Ryan Lyons
I never thought about it too much, but skaters are some of the most genuine people I've met. They're crew oriented, honest, and knowledgeable on a bunch of random things. Listening to Slicky Boy vent about his "Trust" issues is great because he's just speaking on life and not trying to really rhyme. I expected to meet a genuine person when I got up with him last summer, and I feel like I did.
He was sitting down on a park bench in Tompkins Square Park just watching friends skate when I rolled up. I’d walked around the park a few times until I stumbled upon him because we said we’d meet somewhere near there, a rough plan which was etched out in our emails. He didn’t have a phone, which made things more interesting. There’s not really a media team for Slicky but even though he seems remote, he's well aware of his surroundings. He’s collaborated with Black Dave, another skate-rapper with a good following, and most recently he's provided guest verses for two tracks on RATKING's latest project, 700 Fill.
Léte correspondent Jack Sommer recently saw Slicky Boy open for RatKing during their summer concert in the park.
On "American God's", although Slicky raps last, he makes his presence felt spitting, "It's pretty cold in the east, some homies been deceased/ but if I eat, we all having a feast." Based on his vocal approach to the record, he makes simple words feel bigger. I listened to Needle Drop's review about the new Ratking record, but I think he missed the point. I think 700 Fill is a fulfilling rap record because it isn't trying to be great. It just is what it is. It's messy, gritty, and not trying to be insanely deep. It's just some kids spitting some bars. Although, I'm interested in Slicky's solo work, it's exciting to see him collaborate with like minds.
Laid back on a green bench on the “TF"(which is short for training facility) where everyone rides their skateboards in the park, Slicky tells me his current situation behind the shade of his black sun glasses. They were covering an annoying case of pink eye, of which he has no idea about how it got conjured up. It's not helping that he'd already hurt his leg and him and his mom are staring down a few bills past due. After growing up in Manhattan's Lower East Side, Slicky's trying to figure shit out. The costs of his neighborhood are rising and it's forcing a large part of the current community to move out.
I asked him where we could continue our conversation and grab a bite to eat. He led me to Paquito's on 143 1st Ave and we chowed down on some good burritos. We didn't delve in on gossip, but instead about life's darts and the development of his career. Our conversation is below.
R : Yeah, I get you.
SB : It's always good to have more than one flow, ya feel me?
R : Oh yeah, for sure. Switch that shit up.
SB : Yeah
R : How’d you get the name Slicky Boy?
SB : Ha, robbing deli’s.
R : Robbing deli’s? For what?
SB : For food.
R : You were good at it?
SB : Yeah.
R : It kinda comes across in your music like, like you're lazy as shit (laughs). But that's cool though cause a lot of people are like that.
SB: Yeah but then my flow is changing, so like I got that laid back style, that's old. Like (on) "Karma" you could hear the difference.
R : Yeah that track is way more boom bappy.
SB : Yeah, so like I'm exploring my styles.
SB : Not great, not good at all.
R : Yeah
SB : Stealing isn't cool. Same thing with selling drugs yo. That shit is wack. Whoever said selling drugs is fun is retarded.
R : Yeah, that's the realest shit. I've been looking at like alot of classic shit lately. It's so many rappers that were saying.
SB : I push this, I push that?
R : Well not even that cause it's from the era I was listening which is more like the 80's and shit. KRS-ONE and those guys were street kids that weren't from necessarily quaint environments, and they were saying like yo, don't do that shit.
People that probably came from impoverished situations were really being optimistic in their music. As the art form evolved people wanted to speak more on the truth of what was going on in their neighborhood. There's a lot of truth in hip hop but i feel like there's a line between poetry and just influence to do bad things.
R : Like, obviously you couldn't rob a sandwich or some shit. What the fuck were you robbing?
SB : Drinks, chips, candy, all that shit.
R : How so, under the shirt?
SB : In my pants, everything.
R : Tie the bottom of the pants or some shit? (laughs)
SB : Yep, put that shit right in there.
R : Slide that shit in.
SB : Yep. I know there's a spot. I'm not gonna blow myself up or anything.
R : Yeah, nah, its cool. (laughs) I don't think they're gonna read this interview.
SB : Yeah, but I don't know. I'd take forty ounces every single day.
R : They don't even know that shit?
SB : Yeah, one day i got caught a while ago so I don't go.
R : You going to find a new spot?
SB : Yeah, but I also don't like stealing. I hate it. I only do it when I have to do it. Like when I'm hungry. When I don't have any money.
R : How does it make you feel. Stealing?
"When my boys would tell me like 'Yo, I don't fuck with your music they're being honest with me. They're being real with me, and I appreciate that to the fullest."
- Slicky Boy
R : How do you feel about this generation and their drug use?
SB: I think it's crazy, but I really can't say anything cause I haven't really tried it. So, I can't really say anything about it.
R : Like you cant say it's like bad or anything?
SB : Yeah cause I haven't tried it. You can only say its bad once you've tried it. Same thing with food. That's why whenever my mom gave me something to eat when I was little, I was like, it tastes bad. I didn't even try it. She was like how you know? You havent even tried it yet. Yeah, same shit.
R : How old is she?
SB : She's sixty.
R: Oh, she's older?
R : She had you like when she was like..
R: Forty, whats that like coming up with an older mom?
SB : It's crazy, but my mom's a very smart and healthy woman. She holds herself down so I'm not worried about her.
R : What do you feel like you learned from her?
SB : A lot. My mom is a very soft individual. I honestly think when theres a kid involved, you need a dad and a fuckin' mom to balance it out. Feel me? Cause it does balance it out.
R: I agree.
SB : When it's just a mom, it's bad.
R : How do you feel like that's affected you?
SB : I feel like it's affected me in a good and bad way. My mom always told me when someone try to fight with me, tell 'em to stop or tell somebody (like snitch). And my dad would tell me, someone try to hit you, you hit 'em back. That's what you do. But like, I don't know.
R : So you felt conflicted?
SB : I felt a little conflicted cause I didn't know what to do when i was a little kid. Like fight back or tell the teacher, feel me?
R : Yeah.
SB : And that always stuck with me kind of.
R : I know the feeling.
SB : Like even with street fights and shit. I've ran from a lot of street fights because of this shit. And I feel like if my dad was in the picture, I would have like stood my ground and fought. But theres also other times when I did stay my ground and fight. And I won. So l don't know. I still think you need both parents when theres a kid involved.
R : Word.
SB : Because I make music and shit but im also really complicated individual. I've tried to commit suicide many times.
R : What do you think it was a result of? Like, your depression? Why do you feel like you were depressed?
SB: I feel like i didn't get enough attention when I was little.
R : From both parents?
SB : Nah from like everybody. My whole surroundings. I felt like I was a ghost.
R : Was that because your parents were older?
SB : Yeah I don't know if it was cause the age of my parents. I honestly don't know what it was. But that's probably why I always did crazy shit when i was little. To get that attention, you feel me?
R : Yeah, like acting out in school and shit.
SB : And that's probably why I rap now.
R : Yeah, attention.
SB : I want people to listen to me.
R : Makes a lot of sense.
SB : Yeah, so like I'm grateful that its just me and my mom. Maybe if it was just me and my dad, I wouldn't be rapping right now. Or it was my dad and my mom, I wouldn't be rapping right now. Feel me? I'd probably be a completely different person.
R : You seem really honest.
SB : Yeah
R : Is this your first rap interview?
SB : Yeah.
R : That's tight. (laughs) That's good.
R : What about performing? Have you been able to perform yet?
SB : Yeah I've performed in a lot of places.
R : For real? Like where?
SB : Webster Hall, The Knitting factory.
R : So how'd you perform at Webster hall? How'd that happen?
SB : You know that company Ethik? They had something with Black Dave. Me and Black Dave performed "Within the LES."
R : What was the response like?
SB : People fucked with it. Very laid back. That's what everyone told me.
R : Yeah.
SB : Very chill.
R : Yeah I fuck with it.
R: Do you have any loose goals as an artist?
SB : What would be ideal for me as a artist is someone like you hears my music and is willing to invest a little bit of money or something in me so I can help my mom out. So I ain't gotta be worrying about my mom and I just keep on making this music. That would be the best thing that could happen for me.
R : Yeah.
SB : So, I just need to keep on making music, and I can't be worried about the money. I gotta be worried about the music. But then I am worried about the money cause I need to support my mom.
R : So could you see yourself doing a record deal or something?
SB : Yeah. definitely. But I'm definitely not with no like selling my soul type shit
Ryan : Yeah.
SB : A lot of these rappers don't even write their rhymes. They pay people to write for em. It makes it fake.
R : Essentially thats what a star is I guess..
SB : Yeah but that just takes out the whole...
R : Oh trust me, rap is supposed to be a real art form.
SB : Yeah, makes it fake.
R : Yeah, its annoying. Even I be arguing with my homies about it.
*Entering Paquito's, ordering from the menu.
SB : This is my spot right here yo.
R : Im glad you could show me a real spot. Cause we don't have to hit Benny’s Burritos, we could go here.
SB : Fuck that. That's like American Mexican food. This is Mexican food.
R : Damn, it tastes good.
SB : You want hot sauce?
R : Yeah, So how did you feel about being picked on as a kid because of your race?
SB: It was more so because of my skin color. It felt like shit. And then for a while when I was little, I tried to be someone I wasn't. I copped Jordans, started acting all like fuckin hood; thugged out. And then I was like, what am I doing? And then I started skateboarding. And then when I was skateboarding, I got more in touch with myself. And then I knew I was like, this is me. And I never went to Boys Club again, I was like fuck that shit.
R: What was it like there?
SB : I got into a lot of fights. People thought I was crazy. I'd go crazy. I'd go nuts.
R : Over what?
SB : Like, there was a moment where I couldn't take the fuckin racism anymore. I just started yelling and going crazy. Just started choking this one kid. He almost like knocked out.
R : Did they kick you out?
SB : Nah, I left. cause I was a good kid then. Changing the subject, I grew up with a lot of big people in skateboarding. Pros.
R : For real? Like who?
SB : Eli Reed, Derrick Basset. Chris Haslem. All these big names in skateboarding. Every time they come to New York, I skate with them. I go skate and shit. I know Earl and I grew up with all these like big people and like one day I looked at myself in the mirror and I was like yo, I grew up with all these big people and its my time to shine. Like I gotta do it big too.
R : Did it frustrate you to see friends starting to get their stuff out and having your stuff lagging
SB : I just kept my good attitude. That's it. No one was gonna stop me. Definitely when I first started rappin, I sounded like shit. It was terrible. And people were like, "Yo you ass on this shit, quit." I was like nah yo.
R : (laughs) Who said that?
SB : (laughs) Like, a lot of people ain't fuck with my shit. Even my boys. but when my boys would tell me like 'Yo, I don't fuck with your music' they're being honest with me, they're being real with me and I appreciate that to the fullest. So when I made that "Within the LES", my boys were like, that track is kinda dope. And I was like, see? It's all about progression.
R : That's tight.
SB : I want to let people know that you can do anything you set your mind to anything.
R : Real talk.
SB : But you really gotta wanna do it. Can't half-ass.
R : Do you wake up everyday and think about this rap shit?
SB : Yeah
R : If you go to any other neighborhoods, what neighborhoods do you go to?
SB : I don't go nowhere. I stay here.
Slicky Boy is pictured here with one of his grade school teachers we ran into at Tompkins Square park.