Filed under: Interviews,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,Rap Veterans
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
The homie Dallas Penn laced me with this vintage flick of Drewski aka Dr. Butcher chilling out the front of his crib in Corona, Queens with Todd James, courtesy of Aman-Ra‘s archives, which inspired me to go back through the Unkut vaults to recall six of my favorite LL Cool J stories from my extensive interviews with Dr. Butcher:
1. “I came up as a rapper actually. Me and LL, all of us were in a group together. G Rap knew me as a rapper, we were just tight friends ‘cos we were like the two best rappers, and we always just hung out together in the neighborhood. I was Drewski or something like that. I had a few names back in 1987. But it was fun. Extravagant Three was myself, LL and another guy named Royal Rich, who’s brother was a guy named Professor KB. Professor KB was actually Paul C’s partner, and that’s how I met the producer Paul C. After LL got his deal, me and Rich stayed together as a group, and Paul C. used to do a lot of beats for us, along with his brother KB. When Paul C. would work out of 1212 Studio’s he would call us at night and we would always go to the studio and record songs late at night, so that was kinda fun too. Mikey D’s the one who introduced me to Rich and LL.
“In my high school there was this contest called ‘The Rap Attack’, it was like a talent show goin’ on, and one of Mikey D’s partners went to my school, so he would come up there. I was from the other side of Queens, so I didn’t know who any of these guys were. When I got there – I was like real small, maybe a freshman in high school – and I was maybe 4’2″ or something like that. I looked like a little kid with a big giant afro! When people found out I could rap, the word started spreading around the school: ‘There’s this new little kid – you gotta hear him! He’s incredible!’ So all of a sudden I started getting’ all these rappers from Jamaica would come up to the school and hear me rap. Then Mikey D met me, he was like ‘Yo, I know this other little kid, this young dude I need you to meet. You gotta battle him, and his name is Rich. I’mma bring him up here to battle you’. I was like “Alright, whatever’. So he brought him and we started spittin’ rhymes to each other, and he was good – Rich was really good – and we were impressed with each other, so it was ‘You know what? Let’s join a group!’ Then we met LL. LL was there with another guy named Max Mellow C – he went to the school – LL didn’t go to my high school but he would come up there every day, and afterwards he was like ‘Let’s join a group!’ So me, Rich and LL formed a group. Mikey D was in another group with DJ Johnny Quest. We were all like one little family – we all knew each other from high school.”
2. “Me, LL and Rich were workin’ on routines one day and we were listening to Fantasy 3, and they had the number to their record company on the label, so LL called the record store – Silver Fox owned the record store where the record company was – so he called it and Fox was like, ‘Yeah, come on down. Let me check you out.’ It was supposed to be all three of us that went down to the record store to meet Silver Fox. Rich and LL were supposed to meet me at my school. Rich was there, we waited on my steps for two or three hours – I mean I got out of school at like 3:30 and we stayed on the steps until 6 o’clock at night, waitin’ for LL. He never showed up. When we got home we called, like, ‘Yo, what happened?’ He was like, ‘Yo, I was up there. I didn’t see y’all’ It was like, ‘Yo, L – we was there! We was standin’ outside! How you didn’t see us?’ He was like, ‘Well I went up there to meet Silver Fox anyway!’ So he went and met Silver Fox and got real cool with Fox, and Fox introduced him to Rick Rubin – and the rest is history.”
3. “I produced a song called ‘The Soul Survivor’ for him on the 14 Shots To The Dome album. I produced it with C4. Me and C4 – the guy who did ‘Put It In Your Mouth’ – were production partners. I was going to C4’s house one day to work on some music, and LL was shooting his first video from that album on Farmer’s Boulevard, and C4 lived on Farmers Boulevard at the time. And I got off the bus and saw him and I was like ‘Yo! What’s up!’ We hadn’t seen each other in a while. We was always real cool, whenever he had time he would always come see me, but he had been so busy we hadn’t seen each other in a while. So he’s asking ‘Where you going?’ and I’m like ‘To my production partner’s house right down the street’. He’s like ‘Alright, I’mma stop by as soon as I finish the video’. So when I went to my man’s house I didn’t tell him, because I didn’t know if LL was really gonna come. He was so busy, I didn’t know if he was really gonna come by. So we down there working on music and the doorbell rings. He’s like ‘Who’s that?’ and I’m like ‘It’s probably LL, I saw him a few minutes ago and he said he was gonna come by’, and he didn’t believe me! When he opened the door, LL was standing there, like, ‘Yo, is Drew here?’ and his mouth just fell open! L came down and the track we were working on was actually the ‘Soul Survivor’ track, like he walked in the door and heard it. And the thing about it, when we originally did the track, we sampled JDL from the Cold Crush Brothers saying ‘The L baby, baby, the L baby, baby!’.
“That was the first song I ever produced, actually. L was working with QD3 and all these other guys, and what happened was – we did the song, as soon as he heard the track he just sat down, got a pen and pad and wrote the song. He just wrote the song right on the spot. But after we did it, the version that we did had a grimy, street feel to it, and the rest of his album was all clean, with instruments and all of this stuff, and the track kinda stood out. He was nervous about that, so he went in and let QD3 remix the song. He was like, ‘Because you’re my friend, I told Q I still want your name on it’, so we all ended-up splitting the production credits, but the version you hear is a remix. It was so funny because not three or four months afterwards, Wu-Tang Clan hit the scene, and the track that we heard sounded very much like a RZA track. It was strange because the track got leaked – everybody that heard it loved that track, ‘cos it had a street feel to it – they started leaking the song out,and you would walk down Jamaica Avenue and frequently hear people riding by, playing our version of that song.”
4. “LL was always a huge Run-DMC fan, because he was from the neighborhood – he could frequently see Run riding around. But I didn’t care. He actually wrote some songs for them that he didn’t get credit for. I’m not gonna say which ones they were, but if you listen to around the Raising Hell material you may be able to pick it out. If you go back and listen to LL’s songs I think you’ll be able to notice the similarities in the flows and the writing. But he was so excited to be around those guys and be with Def Jam and Russell Simmons and them, I think he was helping them write and stuff. There was a lot of that stuff goin’ on between him and Run. I believe Run was really jealous of him because LL was such a good lyricist and he was the young dude comin’ up, getting a lot of attention. L admired him, so I think L ignored it for a while but after a while he just had to say ‘Whatever man’ and just do LL, so he took off and did his own thing.”
5. “He told me a story of later on – this is three or four album down in his career – he was goin’ to the Latin Quarter one day and he was waitin’ on line, and some guy was callin’ him names and stuff – he was just minding his business, he had pulled-up in his car and had his jewelery on, getting a lot of attention from the girls and some guy I guess is jealous, so he was callin’ him names: ‘Oh you a faggot!’ Just cursin’, tryin’ to embarrass him. He had kinda bulked-up, he had been training – boxing and stuff – in his basement he used to keep a punching bag, and working on weights. I think he started studying a little martial arts too. He was like ‘Yo man, the dude was just talkin’ a lotta stuff Drew, and after a while I just got tired of it and I was like ‘Yo money, you know what? Let me take my jewelery off – let’s get in the street!’ He said he took all his jewelery off and gave it to E-Love [who] I think was with him, and said ‘Yo! You talkin’? Let’s see what you got!’ and brought him in the middle of the street. Everybody was shocked – no one expected him to do it, and he said he whipped the shit outta this dude! He beat him so bad he had him like draggin’ him in the street! He was just beatin’ him like a little kid. And after that, I kid you not, I never heard any other story about someone jumping LL. That was the last time I heard about anyone wanting to fight LL. He was like ‘Yo Drew, after that – everywhere I went I never heard a peep outta anybody! All of that stuff just stopped that one moment.’”
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