LL Cool J is looking back fondly on his time collaborating with the late Eddie Van Halen. Following Van Halen’s death due to cancer on Tuesday, the 52-year-old rapper remembered working on two tracks — “Not Leaving You Tonight” and “We’re the Greatest” — with the late rocker.
“I was always blown away by his ability to play the guitar. I thought it was so dope, so I wanted to work with him,” LL Cool J told Rock the Bells in a statement. “I got in touch with him. He came by the studio, we talked, we kicked it. One thing led to another, and we made a couple of songs.”
Both of the songs that the pair collaborated on appeared on LL Cool J’s 2013 album Authentic, which also featured appearances from Snoop Dogg, Earth, Wind & Fire, Travis Barker, Brad Paisley and more.
“Authentic was one of those projects where I took the gloves off. I did all kinds of crazy music, all kinds of collaborations, and different genres,” LL Cool J recalled. “I remember reading a critic’s writing: ‘Yo, this guy forgot he’s a rapper. I felt like, ‘Yo, I didn’t forget I was a rapper. I just remembered I’m an artist.’ I went after it that way.”
“I think it’s some of my coolest and most interesting work,” he continued. “I think those songs that Eddie and I did together are really special. I think that one day, they will rise. They will get the recognition and the admiration that they deserve.”
As for what he’ll remember about the late rocker, LL Cool J pointed to his “humility and his willingness to share his talent.”
“That was a beautiful thing,” he said. “That man came in the studio with me at a time when, creatively, I was trying to get my sea legs and trying to figure out what to do, and how I wanted to do it. It wasn’t like I was on the top of the Billboard charts, and he was looking for some kind of hot collaboration. It was just pure artistry, and I respected that about him.”
Watch the video below for more on Van Halen.
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