LL Cool J’s talent was obvious even as a brash 16-year-old. But no amount of phone calls to the nascent Def Jam label — a.k.a. founder Rick Rubin’s dorm room in 1984 — was making his hip-hop dreams a reality. Eventually, however, Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys found his tape and made Rick finally check it out, rescuing one of hip-hop’s greatest MCs from a pile of demos.
In this outtake from our exclusive documentary Rick Was Here, Cool J remembers when he finally got a call back from Rick — or at least his grandmother did — and ponders the neighborhood rap group that could have been.