While I don’t know that anyone’s calling him the G.O.A.T. anymore, LL Cool J is still one of the people who should be chiseled onto the hip-hop Mount Rushmore. His lyricism is actually at the point where it could be called underrated, he was certainly a trendsetter, he was hip-hop’s first sex symbol, made hip-hop’s first successful comeback, and to this day, is regarded as one of the genre’s (or any genre’s) most dynamic live performers.

The performance we’re featuring today comes from the 1988 American Music Awards. It might have been the first (at most, it was the second) live hip-hop performance on an AMA show and was maybe the second or third hip-hop performance on any nationally televised award show. Amazing when you consider how much hip-hop as a genre has infiltrated pop culture (random aside: fuck you, Ashley Judd). LL doesn’t need much to put on an energetic performance-just himself, side man E-Love, DJ Cut Creator and the simplest of sets-even with that basic set up, his performance puts many of today’s emcees to shame.

I’ll never get why the audience is so stiff, though. I guess all the rock and country performers in the front row were scared shitless or something.

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