The rapper and actor made a point of connecting the styles of music during his acceptance speech, when he’d said “rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop loves you. We borrow your beats. We sample ’em. We turn them into hits. And we know where we came from. We know where things come from. … We love and appreciate you.”
Responding to a question from UCR during the press conference that followed, LL Cool J said: “Jimi Hendrix was crazy. I would listen to ‘Hey Joe’ consistently. You’ve got guys like Billy Squier. There’s that one song, ‘The Big Beat,’ [which] was one of the most important records in the whole hood. … Bob Dylan, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ – come on, man – the words and the lyrics, and the stuff that he does in that?”
He added that drum beats from songs by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were influential as he developed his personal style. He described late Stones drummer Charlie Watts as “my man.” “Some of those records, those drumbeats, the DJ would cut them records back and forth,” he noted. “We loved the genre. We just decided there were portions of the records and portions of the songs that we liked more. We were Black and Latino, so we responded to the drums.”
LL Cool J said hip-hop gave him and his peers “a way to see the world and a point of view.” “It made me feel empowered,” he explained. “It was the first time that I heard kids that looked like me, saying something that sounded powerful. Because to be honest with you, most of the time when I saw them, they were on the news with handcuffs.”
He emphasized that rock music was part of the experience. “We was feelin’ that vibe, and so we incorporated that into what we do,” he said. “We appreciate rock ’n’ roll. … We loved those beats. So, the guys should know that we love them, we know they love us. I know Dave Grohl has listened to some LL and some Dr. Dre. You know what I’m saying? We don’t have to pretend. And I’ve definitely listened to some Foo. So it’s all love. It’s all love.
“I’m hip-hop pure and simple. I never try to pander. I’m not here trying to fit in. I’m not here to pretend. I’m from Queens, N.Y. I do hip-hop. But I’m glad to be here.”
You can watch the interview below.
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