JAY-Z & LL Cool J Brought A President & $3 Billion To The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

On Saturday (October 30), LL Cool J and JAY-Z were formally inducted into Cleveland, Ohio’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. While Hip-Hop artists have been entering the Hall for over a decade now, 2021’s celebration was truly a standout moment for the culture. As Dave Chappelle suggested while inducting JAY-Z from the stage, these two heroes are “ours“—meaning, the Hip-Hop genre and culture. After years of resistance from some members of the Rock community surrounding Hip-Hop artists getting inducted, 2021’s affair was a reminder of just how influential our culture is. Look no further than those who were inducted, as well as those who celebrated the accomplishment.

The event featured some significant players. Billionaire Dr. Dre inducted LL Cool J, a friend and collaborator. Dre, who is already in the Hall care of N.W.A. in 2016, positioned LL as a forefather. He praised James Todd Smith’s longevity, his dynamic musical range, and how he used his trauma always to come back harder. Dre did not mince words, either. His powerful, personal speech began with the anecdote that having helped build Def Jam Records, LL departed from the label with only a watch for his service. As always, Uncle got the last laugh—now owning his masters and returning to the company he helped make great. This inductee boasts a career in television, awards hosting (and receiving), and owns Rock The Bells—a media powerhouse named after his early hit. Cool J entered the Hall in style, too. Besides Dre, he was joined by early collaborators Bobcat and E-Love, plus current DJ Z-Trip. Embracing his history, LL donated his Audi 5000 red sedan, which appeared on the cover of his 1987 sophomore album, Bigger And Deffer. With a luxury car now parked in the same Hall as Janis Joplin’s iconic Porsche, LL Cool J is treated with the respect he deserves.

LL Cool J Is Back On Def Jam & Q-Tip Is Producing His Music

Quite obviously, Dre was not the night’s only billionaire. JAY-Z enters the Hall at a valuation of nearly $2BB, with assets in music, film, sports, and software. Jay has had wins in liquor, fashion, and streaming platforms. As he’s done before, President Barack Obama inducted Jay virtually, speaking to how the rapper from Marcy Projects was instrumental to his campaigns, especially in swing states including Ohio. From the podium, JAY-Z spoke about his music—and how he never doubted his commitment to Hip-Hop. Shawn Carter credited LL Cool J, as well as KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, and Chuck D, and Rakim for inspiring him in special ways (he later tweeted an acknowledgement to Jaz-O). Jay discussed his early discography, joking at a misstep surround 1997’s In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, to rediscovering an authentic voice for Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. Thanking his Roc-A-Fella co-founders, the 10-figure legend joked that he’ll be back in court this week. It was a lucid and revealing moment from one of Hip-Hop’s heroes.

On episode #66 of the What’s The Headline podcast, the Ambrosia For Heads team discusses the tremendous significance of these two men being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. While acknowledging that Hip-Hop’s museum is on its way, the discussion embraces that barriers that Hip-Hop has demolished, and why billionaires, Commander-in-Chiefs, and a host of legends (including an LL and Eminem performance of “Rock The Bells”) made that point clear. We also discuss some album anniversaries and new music from J-Live, Planet Asia, Ransom & Rome Streetz, Apollo Brown & Stalley, Mick Jenkins, and Wale, among others.

JAY-Z, Jadakiss & Conway The Machine Are The New Roc Boys

The time codes for episode #66 of the What’s The Headline podcast:

0:00 Intro
1:55 Hip-Hop’s place in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
5:35 JAY-Z and LL Cool J are Hip-Hop’s 2021 inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
6:00 Is LL Cool J the most under-respected Hip-Hop artist of all-time?
8:10 Remembering the impact of LL Cool J’s legendary career
8:46 He bursts onto the scene with Krush Groove
12:23 LL Cool J was the first Rap artist to make a major comeback
17:00 LL was one of the first Hip-Hop artists to go from music to Hollywood
19:00 LL Cool J brought his early collaborators with him to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony
20:00 Dr. Dre gave LL Cool J an amazing induction speech
23:50 Hip-Hop brought 2 billionaires, a living legend and a former President of the United States to the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stage
24:30 Dr. Dre and LL Cool J have a lot of unreleased music together
26:20 Dr. Dre is entering a new chapter in life and his career
29:50 Barack Obama and Dave Chappelle inducted JAY-Z into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
31:51 Remembering the impact of JAY-Z’s historic Hip-Hop career
33:00 JAY-Z, Nas and Biggie competed for to be Hip-Hop’s King Of New York in the ’90s
34:20 JAY-Z was Hip-Hop’s King Of New York in the 2000s
39:30 JAY-Z is one of only 2 MCs who have at least 4 classic albums apiece
42:15 JAY-Z is moving to a place where his business moves might eclipse his musical accomplishments
47:06 JAY-Z played a significant role in getting Barack Obama elected president
51:45 JAY-Z thanked Rakim, KRS-One, Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J in his acceptance speech
56:28 Similarities between JAY-Z and LL Cool J
1:03:38 Reflecting on MF DOOM a year after his passing
1:07:06 The Harder They Fall soundtrack features new music from JAY-Z, Lauryn Hill, Ceelo Green, Seal and more
1:09:58 Nas is producing a documentary on Ralph McDaniels and Video Music Box
1:15:45 Damian Lillard had a standout freestyle where he talks about not joining a dream team
1:17:44 Ghostface Killah celebrates the 25th anniversary of his Ironman album
1:21:00 A$AP Rocky released Live.Love.A$AP on streaming platforms for its 10th anniversary
1:26:50 Snoop Dogg and Freeway lost close family members this week
1:28:42 New music from Planet Asia, J-Live (on DSPs), Ransom & Rome Streetz, Stalley & Apollo Brown, Reason, Big Sean & Hit-Boy, Mick Jenkins, Curren$y & Harry Fraud, and more.

LL Cool J Weighs In On Why Some GOAT Rapper Lists Snub Him (Video)

AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline podcast. What’s The Headline has recent interviews with AZ, Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available to view or for listening wherever you stream your pods.

#BonusBeat: An early 2020 episode of What’s The Headline, discussing why LL Cool J really may be the GOAT (video and audio):