LL Cool J and his DJ Cut Creator school the young Maine audience in hip-hop (June 1985)
"I'm from New York City. I have a house in Brooklyn. I live in Queens. And I got my man Cut Creator; he lives in Manhattan," LL Cool J tells the unlikely audience at one of his early shows on June 21st, 1985. This week's Amoeblog Hip-Hop History Tuesdays rewinds back three full decades to an unlikely locale for hip-hop history -- a small college hall in Waterville, Maine. There at an all ages show the less-than-full auditorium crowd was made up of mostly young school age kids with seemingly little or no familiarity with the still young genre of hip-hop (although I bet that this show changed the musical tastes of many of those in attendance.). It was at that Maine town's Colby College that a most articulate 17-year-old LL Cool J, along with his DJ Cut Creator, brought the gospel of hip-hop to a seemingly unschooled audience. This LL did in a perfectly balanced concert meets lecture session - covering scratching and beatboxing, as well as rapping. It's important to note that at this time, it would still be years before YO! MTV Raps would bring the Bronx-born music and culture of hip-hop directly into households across the nation.
Not only was hip-hop new to the much world at this stage in time but so too was the future superstar hip-hop artist (and actor) whose name stood for Ladies Love Cool James. Back in the early summer of 1985 the only record by LL Cool J was his debut single "I Need A Beat." That Def Jam rap single may have been a hit for the new rapper but, judging by the lackluster reaction of the crowd when he and his DJ performed it, most at this Maine show were unfamiliar with it and its maker. It would be another five months before the talented teen from Queens, NY would release his huge hit debut album Radio that last month celebrated its 30 year anniversary (Radio available in LP format). But regardless of how unknown he may have been to this audience or how little most seemed to know about hip-hop, nothing deterred LL Cool J. Young but a true professional, he meticulously broke down and explained all the components of hip-hop in a easy to follow method that was bound to make his audience curious to seek out more. And as such I think this is one of the greatest hip-hop videos from this time period. I only recently learned of this clip when a friend of the son of concert organizer/producer Mike Starr forwarded it to me via WFMU. She did so to inform me that Starr, who went by the radio DJ name of DJ Time Bomb, had just died (Rest In peace). Reportedly the late Maine DJ/promoter had organized LL to travel to the college to perform and had paid him $500 for the show. But because LL would be the only only rap act on the bill, the artist was concerned it would a be short performance. So Starr shrewdly suggested he use the opportunity to educate the audience in the elements of hip-hop; particularly scratching, and beatboxing in addition to rapping. This he ably did and more; even leaving the young impressionable minds with the message of don't do drugs and stay in school! Below is the Krush Groove clip featuring LL Cool J's "I Can't Live Without My Radio" found on both the Krush Groove soundtrack and on LL Cool J's album Radio.