ComplexTV had a sit down with hip hop icon LL Cool J to discuss his career, his upbringing, and "Rock The Bells" -- the song that helped propel him to super-stardom in the '80s. Above, you can watch their Magnum Opus mini-documentary that also features Def Jam co-founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons.
LL Cool J knew what he wanted to do with his life since age 11: become a hip hop artist. At age 16, he was able to get his demo to Def Jam after numerous failed attempts, thanks to Beastie Boys member Ad-Rock.
"Rock The Bells" was originally recorded using a break from jazz musician Bob James' song "Take Me to The Mardi Gras," a sample that was also used in Run-D.M.C.'s "Peter Piper." Since Run-D.M.C. was reluctant to let LL use the sample, he and Rubin created a fresh go-go influenced, hardcore sound that hip hop had never heard before. "Rock The Bells" has made solely for the streets but the world caught on and the careers of LL CooL J and everyone at Def Jam would rise to new heights.
Rick Rubin reflected on how the song fit in with hip hop culture at the time and what made it important.
I think the best records are the ones that don't fit. If it fits, then you probably won't remember it. The real revolutionary records are the ones when you first hear it you don't know what to make of it.
After watching the video, check out the songs they discussed:
For more music, news, videos, and tour dates from LL Cool J, visit his Zumic artist page.