LL Cool J is one of hip-hop’s greatest competitors. He was never shy about throwing lines at those he felt were coming for him, even if they were friends. As a guest star on his then-Def Jam Records labelmates EPMD’s “Rampage” record (1990), L delivered one of the most heralded verses of his career. In his bars, he threw a couple of jabs at his homies Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith.
“No holds barred, it’s time to get scarred,” L raps. “You and your squad better praise the real God. “The Undertaker droppin’ thunder on fakers…”
EPMD’s Parrish Smith stopped by REVOLT TV recently and told us how it felt to feel a few lyrical daggers from one of music’s biggest icons not only “Rampage,” but on “To da Break of Dawn.”
“Like, in the scheme of hip-hop, there are those that are highly respected. L’s one, KRS-One, Rakim. There are just some MCs that are already there before you had a mic or a contract, so you know going into the game what time it is. There’s no way you can listen to ‘To da Break of Dawn’ and not know [he came for us]. When you got somebody that big, it’s the difference between master Ip [Man] and Bruce Lee. Bruce is super nice, but if he gets out of line, Ip Man gonna touch him up a couple times and let him know: ‘You a rookie. I’m here. That’s why I been here before you. If you stay in your lane, you can move further.’”
“That was L,” he continued. “When you would do a song with him, you would be paying attention close[ly] and, more or less, from a fan perspective, you know the mutual respect’s there. We know who we are. We know where EPMD and how dope we are, but it’s kinda like respecting the artists before us. There’s a couple of little bits in ‘To da Break of Dawn’ and ‘Rampage,’ but that goes with the territory of what’s going on.”
Before the version of “Rampage” we all know and love was released, PMD and LL made an original demo version of the record where they engaged in “lyrical sparring.” Parrish said he had a line in the early verses where he laid a reference for an Erick Sermon ad-lib that Cool J may have taken as a slight.
“I tried to put E’s ad lib in my verse because he wasn’t there and it was very easy to misinterpret,” P explained. “I’m in there flying on the mic and I say, ‘What’s wrong with that sucka LL? He must be basin.’” You know Todd, he stays on the radar. After that, shit went on full-steam. That’s the story of me and LL on the original ‘Rampage.’ LL turned it on one billion.”
You can catch both EPMD and LL Cool J this week on ‘Drink Champs.’ On Wednesday at 8am ET, EPMD’s full, two-hour-plus interview hits REVOLT.tv, and on Thursday at 10pm ET, LL Cool J’s interview will re-air on REVOLT TV.
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