LL Cool J is Passionate About HipHop

- How are you? How you doing? I'm doing well. You're-- I think you're doing better than I am. Did you ever imagine that you would one day have your own radio station? - Absolutely not. - No. Absolutely not. You know-- It's exciting, right? It's very exciting because, you know, for so many years artists had to water their music down, including myself on certain levels, and just hope, and pray, and cross our fingers that some program director would play our music. - Really? And-- yeah. A lot of artists go through that out there, and-- What songs do you feel specifically you watered down? Well, it's not-- Which are the watered down LL Cool J-- It's not a particular single. What it is, it's how the music is put out. In other words, like, let's take a song like "Mama Said Knock You Out," which is-- a lot of people are aware of. [APPLAUSE] - Yeah. And they all-- they all clapped. They all clap. But when "Mama Said Knock You Out" came out, it got very little air play. It grew-- it grew over the years, and people are familiar with it. The video, I think, is part of what made it. The video made it, but it got very little air play, and a lot of the music is like that. So now with Rock the Bells radio, what I've decided to do is-- yes, we will play all of the popular rap records that you know, and a lot of the big hits, and classic hits that you love. However, we also, you know, are digging deep into the crates. We're digging deep into the underbelly of the music, and giving you the culture of the music. So Rock the Bells radio is very polarizing in that sense because if you're like, the person who has, like, your favorite 10 rap songs from college, you're going to hate it. - Oh, really? Because it's not that. It's not "I Want to Rock Right Now" over and over again. - Right. - It's not that. And I love-- I love Raw Bass, you know what I'm saying? But it's not that. This is a-- this is a radio station that's about the culture. It's about classic hip hop for real, so if you want to be a fly on the wall, and you really want to understand where rap music came from for real, this is the place to go. This is the stuff that influenced you? Yeah. Well-- well, it's partly-- I go all the way from the late '70s, all the way to the early 2000s, right? And so I will play music from guys like Cold Crush Brothers, who most of them have probably never heard of. Grandmaster Caz. Fearless Four, Treacherous Three. Cash Crew. Soul Sonic Force. Afrika Bambaataa. All of these people that a lot of them never heard. But I also play Grandmaster Flash, and I also play Run DMC, and the Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J, and Public Enemy. Right. People they do know. So it's one of those things where you'll get-- you'll get classic hip hop, but you're going to get it a couple of ways. You're going to get the big hits that you know, but you're also going to be introduced to where it came from. Because this will be the first time in America that hip hop is truly, truly exposed to you guys, and you really get a chance to find out, OK, what's rap music really about? I'm not saying you're going to like it, because it's very polarizing. I'm telling you. You know, it's not for the faint of heart. We're not trying to be family friendly. The language is-- yeah, the language is nasty. But in those-- Either you love it, or you don't. I'm giving it to you raw. I'm giving it to you raw. You know what I mean? I'm giving it to you raw. In those early days, rap music was-- I think, obviously, rap music has evolved over years, like any kind of music has, but just lyrically, it seemed like in those early days a lot of it was boasting, a lot of it was just kind of fun. Like-- like the Sugarhill Gang, you know? It's not-- you know, eating chicken at your friend's mom's house, and it tastes like wood, and stuff like that. - Yeah. All right. But let me give you a piece-- let me give you an example about-- you named that song. And you're right about that, on vinyl. But there is stuff that we play that's not from vinyl, that's a little more raw. And like-- think how the Grateful Dead were popular even without records. Think about groups that never made it on wax, and didn't go platinum, and didn't go gold. But they did live music. We're playing snippets of those cassettes, you know? And things like that, as well. Well, you find the old mixtapes, and stuff like that. Yeah. We're digging in the crates heavy. We're going all over, mining all over to find that stuff. But like, you mentioned Sugarhill Gang. So one of the artists that we feature on the station that has new music, and classic music as well is Grandmaster Caz. One of the stories people don't know is that the song "Rapper's Delight" that you-- you know, the chicken taste like-- with that whole, you know, hotel, motel, Holiday Inn? Well, Grandmaster Caz actually wrote those lyrics. Oh, really? Yeah. Big Bang Hank actually took-- and may he rest in peace, Big Bang Hank, and shout out to Sugarhill, it's all love, but I'm just exposing the truth about what the culture's about. That song-- a lot of the rhymes in that song were not even written by the guy who was saying it. That was written by-- Yes. That was written by Grandmaster Caz from the Cold Crush Brothers, who's a guy that you will hear on our station. So these are the kinds of stories that you hear on this station. Like, I'm introducing you to the real culture. Like, for real. Like, I was on the phone with Kool Herc, who actually started hip hop, for hours the other day. I was on the phone with Grandmaster Flash, who was one of the founders, and one of the godfathers of hip hop, and like a mentor. I'm bringing in the people that actually started the music. Because there was hip hop before LL Cool J and Run DMC. And there was hip hop before Tupac and Biggie. You know? And there was hip hop before all of these people that are so famous now. So you need to understand where it comes from, so that you can understand, OK, what is Kendrick doing? What is Drake doing? OK, how does that compare to where it came from? What does it mean? You know what I mean? Because a lot of the stations, they're only playing the music for you that is like, the pop hit. So you're only hearing the song with the big chorus that the program director thinks, my people in my city are going to like. - Right. But you're not getting-- you're not getting the real, you know what I'm saying? You're not getting the real, raw hip hop. So for some of you, when you turn to channel 43, you're going to-- you know, on Sirius XM-- you're going to be-- you know, you're going to be turned off. You're going to be like, aw, I can't get into this. And for some of you it's going to be the most thrilling moment of your life, because you're going to find out that, yo, so this is what it's really about. This is where hip hop really came from. - Interesting. - Like, for real. Like not, like, pop. Not guys walking around with a bunch of chains on, faking it, pretending. Like-- like, for real. It's real. - The music? The music. The culture. It's for the culture. I'm doing this for the culture, I'm doing this for these guys that started up early. This is like, a passion project of mine. I've never seen you this passionate before. Yeah, because-- because it matters. I really haven't. It matters to me. You know, when I-- when I talked to Scott Greenstein, and Dion, and Jay, and Steve Blatter, and all the guys at the-- at Sirius, and we talked about this-- these are radio guys. We talked about really doing something for the culture. So-- - But they don't care. Those guys don't care about the culture. I'm just gonna tell you right now. Naw. Naw. No, no, no, no, no. - I know Scott Greenstein. He doesn't even care about-- - No, no, no. No, but you know what he's smart enough to do? He's smart enough to let me care for him. I don't blame him. Yeah, he let me care for him, though. - I'm nervous right now. - Naw, don't be nervous. I love him. I love Scott. Scott's my man. We are back with LL Cool J. He's got a new radio station on Sirius XM, Rock the Bells Radio. I have rarely ever seen you this excited. Yeah. I don't know if I've ever seen you this excited. Naw. Probably not, because it's just so exciting. As a kid, what was your favorite radio station growing up in New York that's something you listened to? Well, you know, as a kid, there was two. First, it was WHBI. I don't know if it was a college station or whatever, but that's where Mr. Magic and Marley Marl were at, and that was how I was really exposed to hip hop. First of all, I got exposed to hip hop on the street, through mix tapes and cassette tapes. Not through the radio. How old were you at that time? - When I got exposed to it? - Yeah. - About eight or nine. - Yeah, OK. And I started writing at maybe-- 12? 11, 12. And then at 14 I started trying to make a song, or recording-- you know, professionally. And around 16, that's when we-- I got with Rick Rubin and we started Def Jam, you know what I mean? But-- yeah. My favorite station, though, was WHBI. Then it became BLS, than it became KISS, and then later on it was Hot 97, until they stopped playing my music. [LAUGHTER] You ruled them out. Yeah. Well-- now, you can play it yourself. Yeah, it's all love, though. Play it now. Play it anyway, all right? Give me some love. Was there any thought to only playing your music on Rock the Bells? That's what everybody expected. Everybody-- oh, this is going to be a vanity deal. It's going to be all LL, all the time. All Cool J all day. Naw, I play-- you know, I play my music, but I'm not overdoing it. Like, it's really-- I have some songs that just don't work on the channel because I don't feel like, creatively, they're the right fit. And so I don't play them. I only play the music of mine that I think really works on the channel, and I don't overdo it. You know what I'm saying? Because it's not about me. When you hear one of your songs come on the radio, do you sit-- you listen through it? Or do you switch away? On Rock the Bells I listen to it because I'm doing my homework, and I gotta listen to my station to make it sounds right. But just in general. - I'm clicking off. - You do click it off? - Yeah. - Wow. You know, the song "Rock the Bells--" I was thinking about it today. There's no bells in that song at all. Well, there's a reason about-- there's a reason for that. That's because originally the song was supposed to be to the music that you hear on Run DMC's song "Peter Piper." Oh, OK. "Mardi Gras," by Bob James. I wanted to sample that. I told Rick about it, and Rick said oh, yeah, great. And the next thing I knew Run DMC had "Now, Peter Piper picked--" - Oh, really? Yeah. No, hold on. But let me finish. But it was all good. I said yo, Rick, how did you do that? Because in all fairness, you know, Jam Master Jay, Run D-- all of us are from the same neighborhood, so we have a lot of the same influence. So that-- that Bob James "Mardi Gras" sample-- they kind of beat me to the punch, and Rick Rubin gave them the assist. He was aiding and abetting the beating to the punch. So what ended up happening is I did an original version of "Rock the Bells," and I still wasn't-- felt it wasn't quite right. And then Rick finally-- we did another one and he redeemed himself, and it ended up being way better. And Rick was like, oh, there's a million ideas. Don't worry about it. And he was right. It ended up being one of my-- my biggest songs in terms of impact, you know? Are there any artists with whom you had problems in the past that you go, I'm not going to play these guys on my radio station? - No, no. I'm playing Kool Moe Dee. I'm playing guys with diss records about me on the station. - Really? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, like Kool Moe Dee. I play him all day. Canibus. You know, he got Mike Tyson on the-- I'm playing it all. I'm playing it all. Hi, I'm Jimmy Kimmel, and this is the internet. I made it myself. Hit subscribe if you like it.