Hip-Hop legend LL COOL J is set to release The Streets Win: 50 Years of Hip-Hop Greatness, a visually captivating book poised to be a collector's item, commemorating the impactful evolution of the genre.
Joining forces with esteemed author, journalist, and music photography curator Vikki Tobak and Alec Banks, the editorial director of Rock The Bells, the book pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop. It salutes the vibrant culture, distinctive sound, and pivotal voices that have shaped the genre, serving as a remarkable acquisition for any collector’s assortment.
Sneak a peek at an excerpt from legendary producer Dr. Dre, taken from the book, which hits shelves Oct. 3.
In many ways, I feel like my childhood prepared me for my career. Because my parents were teenagers who were still partying when I was a child, my home was often filled with people and great music. I started playing records to entertain the adults in my house before I could read, which allowed me to see the power of music and, by virtue of controlling it, my own power to change the energy in the room and make people happy.
Life with my mother was chaotic. At the point when I had found DJing and began devoting myself to my craft, she and I were in conflict. She didn’t understand what I was doing or what I needed, but my Auntie Elaine did. She was that some- one special to me. I left home and went to live with my aunt during a critical moment in my musical journey. She gave me the freedom and space to spread my wings, but more than that, she believed in me.
I don’t know that I had a defining moment but, over time, I did start to realize that my skills as an engineer were better than most of the engineers I was listening to, which gave me confidence in the studio. It also gave me an edge over most producers who didn’t have those skills. I never had to depend on anyone else to interpret the sound that I was hearing in my head. I could do it myself and perfect it until it felt right. I didn’t really realize that I had shifted the culture until recently, because that was never my focus. I was just trying to make some hot shit that was fun, entertaining, and shocking.
We all know who Quincy Jones is, and I’m sure everyone can make sense of why I found him inspiring. Marley Marl, Rick Rubin, Mantronix, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kraftwerk also played a role in my development. Someone not many people know about is Larry Smith. He was producing most of what I was listening to at the time—Run-DMC, LL COOL J, Whodini, Fat Boys. I got inspiration from him as I was trying to develop my skills. Because most people don’t know his name, he doesn’t get the props that he deserves.
In 1992, I had just bought a new house. Eazy-E and Jerry Heller were trying to starve me out and refused to pay the money they owed me. I was driving on the 101 freeway headed to the studio and, on that drive, I was thinking about quitting. I had been working on music for The Chronic for at least a month, and everything I was doing either sounded like what I had already done or not as good as what I had already done. I started second-guessing my ability and whether music was what I was supposed to be doing, but I pushed those doubts aside and persevered.
A week later, I started making the best music I had ever made. That moment was crucial to helping me solidify my determination to be a success. It also confirmed that I possessed everything I needed, and all I had to do was stay patient and persistent. If I had listened to that little thing that told me to quit, my entire life would be different now.
People are either pushing or pulling, and I wish I had known the difference early on in my career. I could’ve saved my- self a lot of heartache in that area. At this point in my life, I see the value of surrounding myself with people who push me forward. I don’t want to be around anyone I can’t learn something from.
The Streets Win: 50 Years of Hip-Hop Greatness will be published by Rizzoli and will hit shelves on Oct. 3. Pre-order it here.