Watch This Amazing Footage of LL Cool J Playing Maine in 1985

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 28 2013 2:22 PM

Watch This Amazing Footage of LL Cool J Playing Maine in 1985

A couple weeks ago, Kodiak Starr, whose father organized a performance by LL Cool J at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, in 1985, uploaded old VHS footage of the concert to YouTube. And it is a thing to behold: Cool James was just 17, and hip-hop had not exactly permeated the cultural life of southern Maine. LL Cool J provides an educational demonstration of scratching and beatboxing for his audience, who appear at points somewhat perplexed.

Cool J was still a few months away from releasing his first album. Starr, who is now Creative Director for Digital Strategy at the White House, says that Cool J was paid $500 for the set, and adds in a comment that his dad tried to get Run DMC, but they were too expensive.

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Update: Do not miss the mic drop at 18:30. Cool J was an early adopter.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.