LL Cool J Says His Mother's Tax Refund Funded His Demo
LL Cool J recalls sending one of his first demo tapes to Rick Rubin, says Russell Simmons wasn't impressed.
According to actor/rapper LL Cool J, a tax refund his mother received decades ago proved vital in jump starting his music career. While appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” this week, LL shared the story of how his mother’s tax refund helped the Hollis, Queens emcee create his first demo tape.
LL says after his mother noticed a change in his demeanor when a previous demo was rejected by a handful of companies, she used her entire tax return to purchase a Korg drum machine for the then aspiring rapper.
“I sent demo after demo into every record company,” LL said. “And I got rejection letters from company after company. And I just kept at it. And then what actually happened is I quit and my mother got her tax return. And she took her tax return and bought me some equipment because she knew I was depressed and I was down in the dumps because I didn’t have the proper equipment to make what I felt was a good demo. So, she took her whole tax return bought me a drum machine. It was a Korg actually. And me and my man Frankie we went in the basement, we didn’t even read the instructions. We played it manually.”
The demo LL Cool J created was then sent off to Rick Rubin, but was first picked up by the Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock who suggested that Rubin listen to the tape. It then went from the hands of Rubin to Russell Simmons who wasn’t impressed with LL’s first demo.
“I sent it in to Rick Rubin at his dorm. He had a little production company in his dormitory, Def Jam Productions,” he said. “And actually Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys heard the demo and he played it for Rick. And they decided that ‘Oh, he sounds good. Bring him in.’ And I would call Rick every single day and bug him…I just was stalking him and stalking him. And finally he called me back and told me to come in. And when I met him I was like—I thought he was gonna be black…We went back in the studio and made another song called ‘I Need A Beat.’ Played that for Russell and Russell was like ‘Yeah, this is it. This is it.’ And started Def Jam. And the rest is history."
LL Cool J, who currently stars on CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles,” will serve as the host of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. The awards show will air on Sunday, January 26 at 8 P.M. EST and will serve as the third time LL has hosted the annual music fete.