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 LL was a b-boy-turned-platinum-selling artist and actor. However, there are some hits that the emcee (real name James Smith) missed out on.
In an interview for Warner’s Iconic Records podcast, the legendary DJ Clark Kent unveiled some of The Notorious B.I.G’s most iconic songs were offered to Smith before they ended up in Biggie’s hands. In the interview, Clark Kent disclosed that Smith got presented with the instrumental of ‘Sky’s The Limit’ and Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s ‘Player’s Anthem’. However, Kent revealed that LL knew he had made a mistake when he heard the song in a club.
Recalling Smith’s reaction, DJ Clark Kent highlighted when LL Cool J first heard the track at the Manhattan nightclub, The Tunnel, remembering, “‘Player’s Anthem’ rings off in the Tunnel. The DJ plays it like ten times in a row. Now, me and Biggie are standing against one of the walls in the Tunnel. LL Cool J’s walking by, and the club’s going crazy.”
He continued, “I’m like, ‘Yo, wassup?’ And he goes, ‘Yo, what is this?’ I was like, ‘It’s the new joint with Big and his crew.’ He was like, ‘Who did this?’ I was like, ‘I did.’ He was like, ‘Yo, dawg, I need a joint like that.’ I said, ‘Well, remember that tape I gave you with the silver label on it? That was the first one on the tape.’ And he was like, ‘This?!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you had it first.'”
Clark Kent even unveiled that Jay-Z had the beat for a period and recalled telling Smith, “You had it before Jay-Z, you had it before all the guys that you had any rivalries with. You had it first. I shouldn’t have gave it to you, but I did. But you had it first, and you didn’t pick it. So now you hear it in the club.”
When speaking about ‘Sky’s The Limit, ‘ Kent stated, “The next track on there was ‘Sky’s the Limit.’ He missed that. LL had ‘Player’s Anthem’ and ‘Sky’s the Limit.’ And then it was magical because the Tunnel was upside down that night. And I was just like, ‘We did this yesterday. This shit shouldn’t even be playing.'”
However, Kent disclosed that Biggie Smalls had an ear for beats in a way that other artists didn’t, proclaiming, “Biggie hears the track, he hears the whole song. Most people hear the track, and they think, ‘How do I rhyme to it?’ Biggie’s like, ‘Oh no, there’s a whole song here.'” You can watch the interview with DJ Clark Kent in the video below.