LL Cool J Recites The 1st Rhyme He Wrote. He Was Already A GOAT At 11 (Video)
2017 makes 33 years since LL Cool J released debut single “I Need A Beat.” James Todd Smith was not old enough to drive a car when he signed his contract with Def Jam Records, where he would remain a superstar into the 2000s. The Queens, New York MC elevated the plane of solo Rap stardom from artists like Kurtis Blow and built one of Hip-Hop’s longest lasting careers in the spotlight.
Now known for acting and hosting as well as music, L recently sat down with Stephen Colbert. The CBS late night host pointed out that when LL Cool J released Radio, Starship’s ’80s anthem “We Built This City” was the #1 song in the country (later recreated by The Diplomats). Now, Kendrick Lamar has it with “HUMBLE.”
Asked what he’d do differently if he could go back in time, LL said “If I knew [then] all that I know now I would’ve trademarked a lot of stuff. [Laughs] That’s the real answer, right? I can give you the TV answer or the real answer,” noting that he is a big fan of DAMN. “The real answer is I’d be makin’ way more money now, ’cause I’d know exactly what to do. I had no idea…but [Hip-Hop and Rap music] was always big in my world. In order for you to succeed, you have to be obsessed with it. You have to love it. You have to be passionate about it. For me and the guys in my community and my friends growing up in Queens, Hip-Hop was the biggest thing in the world.”
Cool J recalls Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” prompting senior citizens in his area to sing along, showing Rap’s expansion. Similarly, as an emerging act in the mid-1980s, L recalls a learning curve with Hip-Hop in tour stops such as Maine. “I had to explain!,” he says, about now well known things like the call and response of Hip-Hop and the role of the DJ.
Colbert asks his network cohort (thanks to NCIS) about his first rhyme. At 6:00, LL Cool J explains, “I started writing around 11 or 12…rhymes. The rhyme was “I can blow out a candle from a mile away / Effect rhyme after rhyme with no delay / I can snap my fingers, make you fly through the air / When you reach your greatest altitude, I can be there / I’m not a mutant, no mutation, but my rap is very strange / Create so much power that it boils your brain,”
LL Cool J is said to be working on a collaborative album with fellow 30-plus-year Hip-Hop star Dr. Dre. That effort would be L’s 14th album.