This Mix Salutes 1987’s Def Jam Tour With LL Cool J, P.E., Eric B. & Rakim and Whodini
By 1987 Def Jam Records had solidified a foothold in the Hip-Hop music landscape. While labels like Sugar Hill, Enjoy, Jive, and Profile Records had released some truly incredible singles, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin’s three-year-old outfit was fast embracing the Rap album format. Moreover, they had a diverse roster—in sound, look, and feel. By mid-’87, LL Cool J’s Radio and Bigger And Deffer follow-up, Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill, plus Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush The Show had all hit record store shelves. To boot, Def Jam dropped albums from Metal mainstay Slayer and R&B sensation Oran “Juice” Jones to show a wide range of musical tastes.
In ’87, an incredible ensemble of MCs, DJs, and Hip-Hop groups took to the road. “Def Jam” meant something, and branding master Rush’ Simmons led with the label name. Starring act LL Cool J and fresh-faced hopefuls Public Enemy were on the bill from the roster. Reportedly, LL, with DJs Cut Creator and Bobcat were to the side of a major neon boombox. L had a couch too, for a raunchy “I Need Love” serenade. Eric B. & Rakim, managed by Simmons’ agency, joined along—with their own Paid In Full debut arriving that July. The senior act on the bill was Brooklyn, New York’s Whodini. In the LP game since 1983’s self-titled affair, the trio of Jalil, Ecstasy, and Grandmaster Dee were promoting September’s Open Sesame—the third album to achieve gold certification or better. The show took the road, and fans experienced Rap album pioneers, would-be legends, and the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. himself.
Thirty years later, all of the acts on the ’87 Def Jam tour are active. P.E. released a free album (their 14th) this year (in addition to Chuck D’s touring with Prophets of Rage). Eric B. & Rakim reunited and paid 30-year-respect to Paid In Full with a star-studded homecoming concert (including Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav). Kennedy Center honoree LL Cool J is fast at work with Dr. Dre on something that has Heads excited. Whodini is intact, and often bringing more than “Five Minutes Of Funk” to stages.
Honoring the seminal tour, WRPI‘s Grown Man Rap Show created a two-hour-mix weaving in and out of the songs Heads could’ve heard in ’87. DJ Toast’s mix (co-host Paul Nice was out for episode 138) honors the US leg of the tour’s completion in Troy, New York on October 16, 1987. Near Troy, the significance is ripe to the show. Toast says he worked at the event as security, at The Field House. Between the selections, he says the concert inspired him to a DJ career in Hip-Hop ever since. The mix keeps it accurate and does not go past ’87. For those there, and those not, this tribute mix is incredible—as are plenty of the Grown Man Rap Show episodes and interviews.
#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads was on hand for the 30th anniversary Paid In Full concert by Eric B. & Rakim: