After 17 months in a federal immigration detention center, Slick Rick is finally free.
The old-school hip-hop icon was released Friday afternoon (November 7) from the Bradenton, Florida, INS detention center to his lawyer, Alex Solomiany. His plans were to drive to Ft. Lauderdale and fly immediately back home to the New York area to be with his wife, Mandy.
"Feels good. I look at it as a new beginning," Slick Rick said just minutes after being released from the detention center. "I had a lot of love [on the inside]. Everybody's going through their own drama, everybody's stressed out with their own cases. We all kind of bonded together to some degree."
On Halloween, a federal judge reversed a ruling that said Rick should be deported back to England, where the Bronx-raised rapper was born (see "Judge Stops Slick Rick Deportation, But Rapper Isn't Free Yet"). Rick had been languishing in INS custody with no idea of when he might be deported or released. Even after the judge's ruling, administration errors and the possibility that the INS might appeal prevented his immediate release.
"[There was] a lot of anxiety. You don't know if it's going to be this day, this hour," Rick said. "It's been a week since [the judge] granted me permission, so there's been a lot of butterflies in the stomach, you might say."
Rick, who said he lost up to 40 pounds during his stay, faced deportation because he was technically a foreign national who committed a crime — an attempted murder conviction he served out in 1996. In June 2002, after performing on a Caribbean cruise ship, he was arrested as he re-entered the United States and had been held ever since.