LL Cool J Launches Classic Hip-Hop Radio On SirusXM
With rookies like Tekashi 6ix9ine and Lil Uzi Vert running the charts, it's clear that hip-hop music is moving in a very different direction. Even so, there are still many artists – young and old – who want to pay homage to those classic rap tracks. And now, they will be able to get their daily dose of classic hip-hop, thanks to a new radio channel. LL Cool J launched "Rock the Bells Radio" for SiriusXM on Wednesday (Mar. 27), where fans can listen to all of their favorite OGs.
Following the big launch, the recent Kennedy Center honoree hosted an invite-only retro skating party at World on Wheels roller skating rink in Los Angeles. Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Kelis, Anthony Anderson, and hip-hop pioneers, Melle Mel, Slick Rick, Dana Dane, and Eric B, were some of the celebrity guests on the invitation list.
“This is an important room,” LL told VIBE during the launch party. “These guys mean everything to this culture.”
"Rock the Bells" radio, which currently airs on channel 43 on SirusXM, pays homage to the rap classics, through the “lens of current culture.” The show will feature an array of hip-hop content, from music and interviews, to in-depth retrospectives curated and presented by LL, as well as other innovators of hip-hop music, including Ice Cube, Stetsasonic, Eric B. & Rakim, Snoop Dogg, Outkast, Kool Moe Dee, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, Ultramagnetic MCs, Too Short, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Canibus, Wu-Tang Clan, Run-DMC, Brand Nubian, De La Soul, Black Moon and Ice T.
While it has not been confirmed, that classic roster may also include music from the likes of the Notorious B.I.G., Salt-N-Pepa, and LL Cool J himself.
“It’s not about capturing anything, it’s about moving forward. It’s about showing people an art form in a classic sense. There’s no nostalgia in this. It’s all through the lens of current culture,” LL explained.
“These guys are too important for me to just let the world think that me and Run DMC started rap music,” he continued. “That’s not reality. I didn’t start it, I stood on the shoulders of giants, so I want to make sure that they’re respected and celebrated. It’s important because if we don’t document history it’s erased forever.
“Hip-hop has gotten to a point where people are more focussed [on the business side], and it’s not a bad thing to do, but being a successful business man has nothing to do with the art form," he added. “You can be talented at capturing and monetizing the art, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a great artist if you don’t do that. A lot of these guys weren’t able to capture certain things financially, but their artistic contribution will last for years.”
And the new-school generation isn’t being cut out of the conversation, LL encourages anyone who wants to “check out the classics” to listen to the show.
“It ain’t about age, it’s about a state of mind,” he pointed out. “You want to check out the classics we’re here, it’s that simple. Nobody’s pandering, we’re in our lane. We’re not trying to fake it, this is classic.”
Hit the gallery for photos from the "Rock the Bells Radio" launch party.
Additional reporting by Latifah Muhammad.