Why LL Cool J fell out with Jay Z
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Why LL Cool J fell out with Jay Z

LL Cool J and Jay-Z go back a long way, but, in 2006, their relationship dissipated beyond repair, which led to LL later walking out of Def Jam Recordings.

LL had been a part of the label from the beginning, and his success was an instrumental part of Def Jam becoming an institution that helped make stars of the future. However, as time went on, the rapper felt more underappreciated by the label and taken for granted.

Jay-Z had been appointed President of the company in 2004, and his approach to management didn’t sit right with LL. He felt like he was being ignored in favour of building new stars and called it “painful”.

“That hurt. That was painful, and that created a lot of bruised blood in my spirit,” the rapper said in 2007 on VH1’s Behind the Music. He continued: “I need my records promoted, and your job is to promote them. He needs to be on the phone, calling radio stations. I just don’t feel like he had the necessary experience to do that job.”

Although Jay-Z departed the role in 2006 and was replaced by LA Reid, the damage had been done. LL had already made his mind up that once his contract was up with Def Jam, he’d be out of the door.

2008’s Exit 13 was his final release on the record label, and he needed to take a sabbatical from music after the album dropped. He even went as far as calling Def Jam a “prison”.

At the worst point of his relationship with Jay, 50 Cent had to step in and mediate things. Fiddy said in 2006, “He feels that they’re not prioritising him. He’s been there from the start. I talked to him, and I talked to Jay. I’m the liaison between them for that project to keep that functioning.”

Time proved to be the greatest healer for this situation, and their relationship has been patched up. Speaking in 2020, LL said, “I don’t have a bad vibe with homie. People have misunderstandings. When we were young, young; super young, from what I understand, maybe, there was a contest or something and he rapped and maybe I laughed at him or something.”

He added: “I have no malice. I’m like it’s all love from me and I mean that sincerely, like I don’t have no type of ill-feelings, no type of weird vibes. Like, I wish everybody success. I want to see everybody succeed Joe. So, you know, it’s a little tricky and dicey. So many people put a lot of things on it. But I aint got no problem with homie at all.”

It’s understandable why both men did what they did and why Jay felt like he needed to build new stars rather than live off artists who he considered to be in their autumnal years. However, LL deserved to be treated like the legend, but ‘Hov’ is a ruthless businessman until the end.