LL Cool J’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction kicked off with Dr. Dre taking to the stage to present LL in one of the first big surprises of the night. It would be followed by two more.
Dre posed the question of what “LL” stands for and joked that it could mean “Licking Lips,” which led to the sold-out Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland to laugh out loud. However, Dre said that to him, “LL” stands for “Living Legend.”
“He became rap’s first superstar while staying true to himself representing Queens, New York,” noted Dre. “LL’s longevity is unparalleled in hip-hop…How many artists in the rap game are relevant after 30 years?” Dre would then pause after that statement and then pointed to himself.
After the surprise of Dre, LL’s performance featured two major surprises: Eminem, who joined on “Rock The Bells” and Jennifer Lopez, who joined on “All I Have” before LL closed his set with “Mama Said Knock You Out.”
“The first word that comes to mind on a night this is humility,” opened LL. He would go on to thank his wife, children, and then “to keep it real,” his grandkids.
It took a number of years for LL to get his nod from the Rock Hall — he’s been eligible for a decade, and younger hip-hop acts including Public Enemy, N.W.A., Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. have all been inducted in recent years. But he doesn’t have seem to have sour grapes about the wait saying, “I wasn’t thinking about the people who voted against me; I was thinking about the people who voted for me. A lot of people fought for me to get here.”
He closed with a poignant nod to the rock genre saying, “Rock and roll, hip-hop loves you. We sample your beats, and we know where we came from.”