The LL Cool J track that features Eddie Van Halen
(Credit: Alamy)

Old School Archives

The LL Cool J track that features Eddie Van Halen

LL Cool J has had an illustrious career. From epic rap songs to movie-making and acting, the former emcee (real name James Smith) is a household name in hip-hop. However, when he arrived as part of Def Jam, he came with a new sound.

Powered by Rick Rubin, LL Cool J had a rock-inspired sound that made hip-hop sound larger than ever. It also had a mainstream appeal. Rubin’s musical interest stemmed primarily from the rock and roll genre. However, hip-hop and rock (both innately rebellious) informed his music and made him and his protégés powerhouses with mass appeal.

LL Cool J always had a love for rock and even continued to keep the genre at the centre of his music after the turn of the millennium. Furthermore, he collaborated with a legendary guitarist for his 2013 album Authentic.

In 2013, Smith released his album through S-BRO Music Group, 429 Records. It was his first project not to be released by Def Jam. With appearances from Snoop Dogg, Chuck D and Fatman Scoop, the body of work was hip-hop in its makeup. However, one of its tracks’ featured the band Fitz & The Tantrums and Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

Eddie Van Halen began his career playing legendary rock clubs such as Whisky A Go Go in California and worked with Kiss bassist Gene Simmons. He even made a guest appearance on Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It.’

Having worked with so many legends, when LL was looking for a guitarist to add some edge to his track ‘Not Leaving You Tonight,’ he immediately asked Van Halen if he would contribute, which he did.

In a 2013 interview with, Smith spoke about what it was like to work with the epic guitarist, stating, “I just really wanted to work with the best, work with people that I respect, people that I look up to, people that impress me, people that I believe are truly super talented… and even more talented than myself,”

He continued, “I feel like Eddie falls in that category. Now, Eddie Van Halen has officially done a hip-hop record. And I have officially worked with one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived.”

You can listen to ‘Not Leaving You Tonight’ in the video below.