Label: Ray Town Records - RTM 881-L,Ray Town Records - R.T.M.881 • Format: Vinyl LP, Compilation • Country: US • Genre: Hip Hop •
L L Cool J, the year-old black rap star, is a brawny young giant with the animal magnetism and amiable self-assurance of the young Muhammad Ali. His companion, Paul Simon, is diminutive, white and, at the age of 45, a soft-spoken sage of adult rock-and-roll. L L, whose real name is James. Todd Smith the L L stands for ''Ladies Love''won national attention late in with a debut album, ''Radio,'' that sold more thancopies. Simon has been a major pop star sincewhen ''The Sounds of Silence'' became the first of many hits for the folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel.
Since the early 's, he has enjoyed an extremely successful solo career. When he was scheduled to appear at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 29 and 30, the concerts were sold out within a day; when two additional dates were added for this weekend, those tickets were also snatched up within hours. Simon's newest recording, ''Graceland,'' received a Grammy as album of the year and has sold 2 million copies in the United States and 5 million worldwide. Employing South African musicians and incorporating the music of the black South African townships, known as mbaqanga, it has been widely hailed as a landmark of intercultural pop music fusion.
But both musicians, the newcomer and the established star, were born and raised in Queens, and they are scheduled to be surprise guests at a talent contest in a local community theater. New York City's suburbs and outer boroughs have long been the breeding ground of popular music and of young musicians hungry for fame and eager to transcend their working- or New Day - Julie Thompson - Eye Of The Storm lives.
Styles come and go in pop music, but New York's international importance remains a constant, as does the striving that shapes those styles. Simon, who now lives in considerable splendor just off Central Park, was brought up in an attached house in Kew Gardens; during his adolescence, in the late 50's, the area was a mixed Jewish and Italian neighborhood.
Since he was 3 years old, L L, whose parents are separated, has lived with his grandmother, Ellen Griffith, in a two-story red brick house in St. Albans, a black middle-class neighborhood that, together with the adjacent neighborhood of Hollis, is a hotbed of the young, aggressive and mostly black rap music culture. L L and Simon both achieved local celebrity while still in Dennis Farnon - Pictures From A Life teens.
In school, he got good grades, played football and studied karate, and he insists that he intends to complete his education. Simon and his former singing partner, Art Garfunkel, had their first hit, ''Hey, Schoolgirl'' recording as Tom and Jerryinwhile they were classmates at Forest Hills High School.
Simon went on to major in English at Queens College, while Garfunkel attended Columbia; they reunited professionally during college. L L Cool J is widely considered to be one of the most gifted young rap music performers. The largely black, streetwise style evolved out of the Bronx in the 's, when inventive young rappers used the rhythm tracks of funk and hard-rock records as background for their own boisterously incantatory rhymes, often improvised. The content of the lyrics ranges from commentary on the hardships and inequities of ghetto life to warnings against drugs, bawdy declarations of teen-age love or lust and baroque boasts and insults.
As Simon watches, L L raps along with tracks from his soon to be released second album, twisting his hips and spearing the air with a syncopated flurry of karate jabs. He is flamboyantly outfitted in the red warm-up suit, shiny white sneakers without The Beatles - Black Album and white terry-cloth cap that he will later wear on stage. The two musicians reminisce about their first Mädchen - Nein Danke - Wizo - Keiner Ist Kleiner with pop.
Paul Simon was carried away by the almost simultaneous revelations of doo-wop black vocal music, usually a cappellaElvis Presley and the keening close harmonies of the Everly Brothers. Twenty-five years later, L L Cool J was mesmerized by ''Rapper's Delight,'' one of the first and biggest rap record hits, by a now defunct group called the Sugarhill Gang. What enabled both L L and Simon to have hits while still in their teens was their proximity to Manhattan. Although by no means the only business hub for American pop, Manhattan is still where most roads lead.
In the 50's and the early 60's, Manhattan-based music mavens like the disk jockey Alan Freed and the music publisher Don Kirshner oversaw the rise of rock-and-roll and teen pop. In the 80's, rap, too, is a Manhattan-centered industry in which Russell Simmons, who with Rick Bodies On Bodies - Vio-Lence - Rough Demo owns the hugely successful label Def Jam, plays a major entrepreneurial role.
The giant portable radio and tape deck that is L L's almost constant companion is only part of the We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too equipment that is stacked around his basement room; there are also several tape decks and four large speakers.
The ceiling of the combination studio and living space is festooned with pinups, 45 rpm records and posters of other rap groups. On one wall is a poster from the rap movie ''Krush Groove,'' in which L L played a cameo role. As L L Cool J and Paul Simon take turns playing each other's records, they compare notes about the capabilities of various drum machines and electronic devices. L L explains that he has lately been listening to a lot of 's rock-and-roll and plays a rough mix of a work-in-progress called ''Go, Cut Creator, Go,'' an ingenious bit of rap braggadocio We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too Too Many People - Farnborough Firework Factory - Too Many People a version of the classic Chuck Berry guitar riff from the song ''Johnny B.
Simon expresses his admiration, and We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too turn he plays L L selected cuts from ''Graceland,'' an album whose verses sometimes take the kind of playful tangents We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too hears in L L's lyrics.
The musical exchange ends when L L's grandmother sends word from upstairs to ''turn it down. We had a guitar amp, and False Sentiment - Off My Chest - Straight From The Heart E.P. was always telling us to turn it down.
The rocker of the 50's and the rappers of today seem remarkably close in some ways. We brought home our 45's and looked up the record companies in the telephone book. Since the companies weren't open on weekends, we would take the subway into Manhattan after school or on holidays and knock on the door.
It didn't even occur to us to Awesome Rainbows - Koo Koo Kanga Roo - Rad-Trospective up appointments. There would usually be a secretary who would ask us if we had songs or demos, which we didn't at the We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too.
So we volunteered to sing live. She would walk into the other office and the guy who owned the company would usually be there. Either he'd listen to us on the spot or ask us to come back.
When we were 14 we were signed by a small company, Melba Records, that never recorded us. But by hanging around the office we learned about trade magazines, disk jockeys and recording studios. As Tom and Jerry [ Simon was Jerry ]we made two records for him.
The first was 'Hey, Schoolgirl,' which made us a few thousand dollars and enabled me buy my first car. Our second record was a flop. At first we were unbelievable stars because we had broken out of the neighborhood and been on 'American Bandstand. Simon served what he looks back on as his apprenticeship in the music business, learning the ropes of the recording studio, during his college years. In the early 60's, he sometimes made between three and six demonstration records a week of his own and of other people's songs for Manhattan music publishers and record companies.
But while Simon was We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too a foothold in the lower echelon of the New York pop scene, a number of his peers were becoming hugely successful pop songwriters and performers. His fellow student at Queens College, Carole King, and her then husband and writing partner, Gerry Goffin, were among several young songwriting teams contracted to Don Kirshner and Al Nevins's publishing company, Aldon Music.
And in the 70's there was Barry Manilow. And of course there was Barbra Streisand, who had the gift. Frustrated as a rock-and-roller, Simon embraced folk music around the time it swept college campuses in When Art and I made our first album, we were really bringing to bear two areas of knowledge.
One was the folk movement, particularly English folk music, which I got to know very well. The other was early rock-and-roll, especially the vocal harmonies of the Everly Brothers.
Those ingredients made up the sound of early Simon and Garfunkel. L L Cool J is so young that he almost doesn't remember a time when there was no rap music. Even before there were rap records, he was listening to tapes of amateur performances that were circulated around the black community.
Paul Simon was 13 when his father, a studio musician who played the bass violin, bought him his first guitar. It's like speaking Spanish if you grow up in an all-Spanish house.
I got into it when I was about 9, and since then all I wanted was to make a record and hear it on the radio. They competed then, as they still Epilogue - Samael - Blood Ritual, at informal gatherings in roller rinks and block parties.
Or it's Friday night at the roller rink and a rapper announces, 'I can take out any rapper with just one rhyme. Being the best in your neighborhood is what it's all about. When L L was 13, he started sending his homemade tapes around to every record company that was involved with rap. His break finally came in the spring ofwhen he sent a tape of his composition ''I Need a Beat'' to Rick Rubin, who, with Russell Simmons, was then in the process of forming Def Jam.
With a few additional sound effects, ''I Need a Beat'' became the label's first single and sold more thancopies. A second single, ''I Want You,'' fared even better.
With his good looks and swaggeringly sexy stage show, L L has become the ranking teen-age heartthrob We Rock The House - Various - We Rap Too the rap music culture. During his performances, he frequently doffs his shirt and struts to the shrieking approval of adoring female fans.
L L says of his image, ''I want to be a gangster and a lover at the same time, but a good gangster. A good gangster is a person who has etiquette, who speaks softly but carries a big stick.
The musical colloquy in L L's basement has delayed by an hour the joint appearance at the Black Spectrum Theater Company, a seat community performing arts center in Roy Wilkins Park in St. Recently, the center has inaugurated a weekly talent contest that attracts rappers, comedians, dancers and singers who compete for merchandise prizes. Arriving at the center, L L and Simon are ceremoniously ushered backstage and offered wine and sandwiches.
Inside the auditorium, a young pop-soul singer is wailing a ballad to the accompaniment of prerecorded tracks on a tape deck. The boisterous audience of about young black people only half listens.
The singer is soon supplanted by a four-man rap group, Star Force, that also fails to ignite the crowd. Finally, L L, who has already been spotted on the premises, is introduced: ''Is it true that Queens is the center of rap? Anybody who says no doesn't believe in Queens! And tonight we have visiting us the youngest rap superstar, L L Cool J. Everybody give him a round of applause! The reception is guarded, and one senses the envy mixed with the admiration for the young rap idol who, at 19, has the world on a string.
L L strides to the microphone and speaks, keeping his remarks brief. You should check it out! Simon chimes in graciously. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers.
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L L, whose real name is James Todd Smith the L L stands for ''Ladies Love''won national attention late in with a debut album, ''Radio,'' that sold more thancopies.
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