LL Cool J: Hip Hop Ambassador

Check out this awesome video from 1985. Not only is LL Cool J at the very beginning of his career, you can also clearly tell the audience really doesn’t understand the idea of Hip-Hop. LL is actually teaching them about what he and his DJ Cut Creator are doing.

To me, that’s the best part. Plus, in the grand picture, it shows just how much this man has done for the genre.

His debut album Radio was one of the first Hip-Hop records to make it to super stardom – especially when the album went Platinum in 1989. Fully produced by Rick Rubin (a Hip-Hop producer amabassador himself), the beats provide a perfect example of what the early culture of the genre sounded like. Break beats, scratches, and B-boy emceeing all combined into one silky smooth flow. “Rock the Bells” and “Dear Yvette” are some of the songs from this debut that have stood the test of time.

Not to mention, “Rock the Bells” has one of the most mentioned lines of all time:

“LL Cool J is hard as hell!”

Next thing you know, a loud guitar riff hits to bring you right in. Exciting and commanding right from the beginning, exactly how the art of being an MC works.

Golden Age

LL Cool J was the first Hip-Hop artist to be featured on American Bandstand, as well as a huge part of the “Golden Age”. A lot of people credit that time as being the most influential period in all of Hip-Hop history. Artists like Run D.M.C., Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul, and EPMD all have much influence.

(In my opinion, I think the “Golden Age” is rivaled quite closely by the period of 1994-1998. Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, Ready to Die, and All Eyez on Me (to name a few), dropped in this time period. You can almost say the ’94-’98 phase is the “New School Golden Age”)

LL Cool J: 1987-1990

After Bigger and Deffer made Hip-Hop history in itself, LL came through with two more majorly succesful albums. Walking with a Panther, and Mama Said Knock You Out made way for the genre again, with both getting Platinum status on the way.

LL Cool J really paved the way for Mainstream Hip-Hop to be placed where it is today, as a major influence for radio charts across the whole country.

Sometimes, it can be tough to remember some of the artists that paved the way for this amazing genre. One of the things that has always struck me as incredible, is how all of this major artistic talent was coming out of one place at one time. Kool Herc, The Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash, as well as many others should all also be thanked for making the genre the way it is today.


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