Queens emcee LL Cool J is one of hip-hop’s most renowned golden age artists and has cemented his place in musical history. Born and raised in New York, the rapper (real name James Smith) first arose on the scene as part of the Extravagant Three.
This forgotten 1980s trio served as LL Cool J’s launchpad into the industry, and by 1983, the former b-boy was working with the legendary Rick Rubin. Smith swiftly began releasing solo material following the dissipation of his crew, and with the help of Rubin and the pioneering Jazzy Jay, in 1985, Smith released his debut studio album, Radio.
Boasting smash hits such as ‘Rock The Bells’ and ‘I Can’t Live Without My Radio’, the platinum-certified album set a precedent for East Coast hip-hop. Recorded at Chung King House Of Metal studio in Manhattan, the album was executively produced by Rick Rubin during his heyday when he was working with Run-DMC. Only two years later in 1987, LL released his second project, Bigger And Deffer. The album superseded Radio, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200 and featured the hit single ‘I’m Bad’.
Since the ’80s, SMith has achieved amazing feats and even though nowadays he’s known as a businessman and actor, LL Cool J’s heart is in hip-hop as an emcee and artist. Since the 1980s, he has contributed so much to rap culture that it’s impossible to deny his talent. His discography spans decades, featuring various sounds and aesthetics, but Smith has always been a mainstay of the genre. As such, in a recent interview with hip-hop pioneer Busy Bee Starski, Smith named his top five rappers were when he first came out.
You can see his picks in the list below.
LL Cool J’s five favourite rappers:
- Cold Crush
- Treacherous Three
- Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
- Grandwizard Theodore & the Fantastic Five
- Force MCs