This happened at the end of last week, but it got a little lost in the long-weekend shuffle, and it’s worth taking note of: New York Governor David Paterson just gave rap trailblazer Slick Rick a full, unconditional pardon. It’s the right move on all counts. The emcee (né Ricky Walters), who’s based in the Bronx but was born in London, has been repeatedly threatened with deportation based on a bunch of technicalities related to a 1990 crime for which he already served his jail time over a decade ago. Yes, it was a serious crime — attempted murder and a bunch of weapons charges — but he’s long since repaid his debt to society. And songs like 1988’s “Children’s Story” (below) are a key part of our pop-cultural heritage; it would have been a real shame for federal authorities to exile the guy.
Still, this isn’t exactly a new issue — Ricky D’s case has been kicking around for years and years without any conclusive progress. So I was really pleasantly shocked that Gov. Paterson chose to take action on it now, so soon into his first term. How refreshing! I dunno whether the governor was trying to strengthen his support in the old-school hip-hop head community, or just the community of people who like to see justice served. But he’s sure got me in the bag right now. Anyone else feeling this decision?