When it comes to storytelling, Slick Rick is one of the greats. I don’t know how I ended up with “Mona Lisa” stuck in my head the other day, but the whole song is a masterpiece.
For the uninitiated, Slick Rick has already “made it” before he launches into the song (it’s important background if you’re not reading this in 1988). The story opens with him hanging out with his old friends and popping into a pizza shop for a slice. It’s there he meets Mona Lisa.
The status mismatch here is everything. Rick’s slumming it. He’s asking about her, telling her about himself, they’re both trying to look their best to the other, and we, as listeners can tell he’s smitten.
And then his friend shows up, yells at him for hanging around girls like this, and the song ends as Slick Rick and Mona Lisa part ways. But not without hearing her sing a little Dionne Warwick to him (“Walk on By).”
Like all of Slick Rick’s songs, it’s a short movie. Nobody did it quite like him.