Slick Rick

After a 23-year legal process, hip-hop pioneer Slick Rick has official become a legal American citizen.

The English-born rapper was sworn in at an official ceremony, alongside dozens of other new citizens, in New York this week.

“I am so proud of this moment — and so honored to finally become an American citizen,” Rick said in a statement. “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.”

At the height of his career in 1990, Slick Rick was sentenced to prison for the self-defense shooting of his cousin (who was hired as a bodyguard) 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 rehabilitation and contribution to his community. However, after his release, Rick was repeatedly threatened with deportation, and spent additional years in a deportation lock up, despite never getting in trouble with the law again.

Now, with his citizenship, he can now 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.