Rick Rubin Recalls How LL Cool J Thought He Was Black Before They Met
“LL was 16 at the time that I met him and he came to the dorm room because Def Jam was in my dorm room at NYU,” Rubin shared. “I opened the door and he said ‘Rick?… I thought you were Black.'”
LL Cool J would become the first rapper signed to Def Jam in 1984, before releasing his debut album, 1985’s Radio, which was entirely produced by Rubin (along with Jazzy Jay).
Elsewhere in his interview with Will Smith, Rubin expanded on the early days of Def Jam, which saw him and Russell Simmons sign iconic artists such as Beastie Boys, Slick Rick and Public Enemy.
“Russell was the one who saw the hip-hop album,” Rubin explained. “I loved hip-hop so much and all they were were 12-inch singles. I thought of it as a 12-inch single forever and I thought that’s what it was going to be. He said, ‘No, no. We can do albums.'”
Smith’s Class of ’88 podcast debuted last week, and is set to feature interviews with many of Will’s hip-hop peers of the 1980s, including conversations with Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Rakim and Chuck D.