LL Cool J and Dr Dre are very similar concerning their legendary status and have both built legacies that cannot be undermined. The two artists have their roots firmly planted in the 1980s and are considered icons within hip-hop. In 1998 the two artists collaborated on a track called ‘Zoom’, and it’s safe to say the song was phenomenal.
LL Cool J arose during the early-’80s in New York. As an East Coast artist located in the mecca of hip-hop, the rapper (real name James Smith) first made waves in Queens as part of The Extravagant Three. Comprised of Dr. Butcher, Royal Rich, and LL Cool J, the trio served as their launchpad into the higher échelons of hip-hop. Although they never made an official release, they garnered enough attention for Smith to be spotted.
Smith entered hip-hop as a teenage b-boy but began rapping upon joining The Extravagant Three. However, he quickly began networking and releasing solo material after the trio’s dissipation. Operating in Queens, the musician worked alongside Rick Rubin, who was producing with Run-DMC at the time. With the help of Rubin and the pioneering Jazzy Jay, in 1985, Smith released his debut studio album, Radio.
In 1987, LL released his second project, Bigger And Deffer. During the period that Smith was thriving in New York, the iconic gangsta rap group N.W.A. were erupting on the West Coast. One of the most notable collective members was Dr Dre, the group’s extraordinary producer. As an ’80s phenomenon, gangsta rap spread across the US like wildfire. Dr Dre and LL Cool J ruled the charts during this period but never collaborated.
However, in 1998 the two would finally join forces. As the executive producer for the soundtrack of Bulworth, Dr Dre called upon Smith for a track that would later become ‘Zoom’. Produced by Young, the instrumental samples the 1971 song ‘Ironside’ by Quincy Jones. The legendary beat assembled by Dre was meant to appear on a Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre collaborative album. However, when the project never came to fruition, the song was re-recorded with LL Cool J for Bulworth O.S.T.
The lyrics for ‘Zoom’ interpolate a variety of different songs, including ‘Got My Mind Made Up’ by 2Pac as well as ‘Get Retarded’ by Craig Mack. The instrumental featured on the 1995 King T project, Thy Kingdom Come. However, the album was only partially released. Still, the King T version alongside Snoop Dogg can be heard online. ‘Zoom’ was fairly unsuccessful in the US and debuted at 101 on the Billboard Chart. However, the track did very well in the UK, where it debuted at number 15.
You can hear the isolated vocals of ‘Zoom’ in the video below, as well as the King T version.