LL Cool J Blasts DJ Akademiks For Dissing Hip-Hop’s Pioneers

Weeks after Hip-Hop celebrated its honorary 49th birthday, one of the more popular commentators within the space has come under fire for some recent remarks surrounding Rap’s pioneers. DJ Akademiks, known for his social media posts and co-host role on Complex’s Everyday Struggle and Off The Record, did a Twitch stream where he espoused some controversial views.

While Akademiks did not mention artists by name in the session posted to YouTube on September 19, he criticized the financial well-being of people who are credited as Hip-Hop pioneers. Specifically, the personality drilled down on rappers. At the 16:00 mark, he opined, “That’s what I’m tryin’ to tell you: Them old rappers? Them ni**as [are] broke. Have you seen any of these old rappers who be like they’re the foundation of Hip-Hop really living good?”  asked Akademiks. “Them ni**as be looking really dusty—I kid you not. And don’t none of y’all try and come for me ’cause I don’t f*ck with y’all ni**as either, so I’m just tellin’ y’all the truth.” The New Jersey-by-way-of Jamaica personality born Livingston Allen continued, “Every time an old, old ni**a talkin’ about Hip-Hop, you’ll be like, ‘Yo, bro. You sure you invented this? ‘Cause everybody else is livin’ better than you. It’s facts.” The comments came after discussing artists appearing on reality television, and how TV marked lucrative revenue beyond music. Akademiks uses Method Man, who recently declined dates of the ongoing Wu-Tang Clan tour (alongside Nas and Busta Rhymes), to honor film and television commitments.

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One artist who took umbrage with Akademiks’ remarks is LL Cool J. LL, who involved Rap pioneer Grandmaster Caz on Exit 13, has built his Rock The Bells radio station and media platform to honor the legacy of Hip-Hop. In an Instagram Live video, Uncle L checked Ak’—without saying his name. “It came to my attention that a DJ — and I’m not gonna say any names ’cause I don’t think it’s necessary — a DJ basically said that a lot of the pioneers in Hip-Hop, they’re dusty or how can they be the person that invented Hip-Hop if they don’t have a lot of money, or if they don’t represent like they have a lot of dough,” said the artist, who has also become a veteran of film and television.

The artist with #1 albums to his catalog continued in a serious video message: “Let me explain something to you: don’t think just because somebody knows how to get money — or fails to get money — that they didn’t make a contribution to the culture. No one discusses Miles Davis’ bank account. We don’t talk about John Coltrane’s bank account. A lot of even Rock musicians … a lot of great Country artists, we don’t talk about their bank accounts.” He emphasized, “This idea that you have to have money or else you don’t have any value is a bad idea and it’s a misinformed way of looking at the world and the culture.”


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LL then made a case for why some pioneers may have crawled so today’s artists could run—financially speaking. “Today, you can come up with your five-year plan, your 10-year plan, your 20-year plan. You can go find a manager, you can find an accountant, you can find a team that helps your career go to the next level. When Hip-Hop first started, there were no managers, there were no accountants that believed in it. Record companies didn’t even believe in it! Nobody believed in it. How can you make a five-year plan or a 10-year plan on something that doesn’t even exist yet?” In 2017, Run-D.M.C.’s Daryl McDaniels explained that his group, who achieved record sales, international tours, and brand partnerships with Adidas, benefited from the groundwork of pioneers.

LL drove his point home: “So just because [these pioneers] didn’t get rich, just because they weren’t able to pile up millions or billions of dollars, does not mean that they didn’t make a contribution to this culture. They created an industry that we all ate off of! They created an industry that you eat off of!” While Akademiks is not an artist, he has positioned himself in the Hip-Hop culture as a pundit and commentator. In the same video, the personality admitted that he gambles five figure sums of money daily.

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The Rock The Bells founder spoke to that point in his closing: “When you go monetize your brand, when you go negotiate your deals and negotiate your checks and talk tough, guess what? That food that you eating was created by those same people that you disrespecting. That industry was created by them same people that you calling, you know, foul words.” Uncle L offered some wisdom to the personality who has come under fire by artists before—including Vic Mensa, Freddie Gibbs, and The Game. “I’m all about getting paper, I’ve been talking about it my whole career. But don’t ever, ever, ever confuse being rich with making a contribution to our culture. Don’t ever play yourself like that again.” Since Everyday StruggleAk’ has launched a Spotify exclusive podcast, Off The Record, . Using that platform, he has featured Tekashi 6ix9ine, 21 Savage, and Cordae, among others.

In his closing, LL asserted: “Approach this game with humility and be glad and be thankful that these pioneers helped create this culture. And let’s show them love, let’s elevate them, let’s celebrate them … There are people that started this thing, and I think that they deserve to be honored and respected.”

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This summer, artists including Kurtis Blow, Chuck D, KRS-One, and others have launched a Hip-Hop union. The Hip Hop Alliance intends to advocate for the health and well-being of artists.

#BonusBeat: A 2021 episode of Ambrosia For Heads‘  What’s The Headline podcast examined LL Cool J and JAY-Z bringing a US President and over $3 billion in Hip-Hop wealth to LL and Jay’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inauguration: