Notable Releases: Beastie Boys "Rock Hard"; Jazzy Jay "Def Jam/Cold Chillin' In The Spot"; MCA & Burzootie "Drum Machine"; Hollis Crew "It's The Beat"; LL Cool J Radio (Def Jam/Columbia)
In an era when hip-hop long players were a rarity, the first full-length release from the house that Rick and Rush built had a major impact. Setting it off with the speaker-smashing "I Can't Live Without My Radio," LL delivered a thrilling dedication to man's best friend of the dayâ€”the boom box. The Radio LP laid out the blueprint for James Todd Smith's remarkable longevity in the music game, balancing punishing brag-rap exhibitions ("Dangerous," "Rock The Bells") with humorous put-downs ("You Can't Dance," "That's a Lie") and songs for the ladies ("I Want You," "I Can Give You More").
With Rick Rubin's heavy metal sensibilities applied to the production of the record, the live band feel of the Sugar Hill era was dismissed in favor of a raw drum machine and guitar stab sound, which felt like a more accurate representation of a live hip-hop experience. The success of the album, the first Def Jam project released through their new partnership with Columbia Records, solidified the label within the still developing hip-hop market.
Old-schooler Jazzy Jay recorded an electro track named after the label which featured Rush ranting on the B-side; MCA and Burzootie recorded the excellent "Drum Machine." Run-DMC affiliates Hollis Crew dropped "It's The Beat," consisting of Kool-T (later a member of The Afros), DJ Hurricane (who went on to DJ for the Beasties), Runny Ray, and Davey DMX.