And in This Corner…
Hip-hop heavyweights square off to see who will emerge as King of the Mic
Hip-hop has a long and checkered history of aggressive, sometimes violent rivalries: Biggie vs. 2Pac, Eazy-E vs. Dr. Dre, Nas vs. Jay-Z, 50 Cent vs. The Game. But on June 7, four of the biggest acts in rap history converge on St. Augustine Amphitheatre to duke it out over only one thing: microphone supremacy. New York's LL Cool J and Los Angeles' Ice Cube both boast hardcore-turned-mainstream career paths, while De La Soul and Public Enemy have flourished as legendary collectives representing two disparate ends of rap's socio-cultural spectrum. Folio Weekly breaks down all four fighters on the June 7 card to see how they stack up.
LL COOL J
Real name: James Todd Smith
Hometown: Bay Shore, N.Y.
Rapping since: 1984
First big break: Meeting producer and Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin in 1984
Total knockouts: Six No. 1 albums; 11 No. 1 singles
Most famous for: Kangol hats, his buff bod, mixing hardcore rap with steamy ballads, a prolific TV and film career, and "Accidental Racist," an idiotic and inflammatory recent country-rap collaboration with Brad Paisley
Pinnacle of career: In the 'hood, 1989 hit single "Mama Said Knock You Out"; in Hollywood, his recurring role on hit CBS drama "NCIS: Los Angeles"
Initial mainstream exposure: Star of NBC sitcom "In the House" (1995-'99)
Ultimate street cred: Minimalist black-and-white music video for 1988 hit "Going Back to Cali"
Raciest round: Hypersexualized, lip-licking video for 1995 single "Doin' It"
Lowest below-the-belt hit: Appearing in 1999 movie "Deep Blue Sea," about a top-secret sea base attacked by genetically enhanced sharks
Nastiest bare-knuckle moment: Publicly feuding with lethal battle rapper Canibus, who actually enlisted Mike Tyson to be his hype-man on an LL diss track
Political haymakers: Self-proclaimed independent; see outrage over aforementioned Brad Paisley collaboration
Latest brawl: New album "Authentic," released April 30; "Accidental Racist"
Extracurricular rope-a-dopes: Co-creator of FUBU clothing line, author of four books, founder of influential Rock The Bells label and festival
Real name: O'Shea Jackson
Hometown: South Central Los Angeles
Rapping since: 1985
First big break: Meeting producer, rapper and co-founder of pioneering rap group N.W.A., in 1984
Total knockouts: Five No. 1 albums; five No. 1 singles
Most famous for: Confrontational star turn with N.W.A., unapologetic gangsta-rap solo career, going mainstream by writing and starring in cinematic cult classic "Friday," wearing Raiders gear, his infamous scowl and tight Afro
Pinnacle of career: Hit 1993 singles "It Was A Good Day" and "Check Yo Self"
Initial mainstream exposure: Star turn in 1991 movie "Boyz N the Hood"
Ultimate street cred: Writing most of the lyrics to N.W.A.'s seminal 1989 album "Straight Outta Compton"
Raciest round: Line from "It Was a Good Day": "And my dick runs deep, so deep/So deep put her ass to sleep"
Lowest below-the-belt hit: Starring in 1997 adventure-horror flick "Anaconda"
Nastiest bare-knuckle moment: Forming supergroup Westside Connection in the mid-'90s to fan-inflamed East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry
Political haymakers: Naming his debut album "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted"
Latest brawl: New album, "Everythang's Corrupt," out later this year; supposedly working on movie remake of classic TV show "Welcome Back, Kotter"
Extracurricular rope-a-dopes: Owner of Lench Mob Records, producer and show runner for TBS series "Are We There Yet?"
DE LA SOUL
(Trugoy The Dove, Maseo, Posdnuos)
Real names: David Jude Jolicoeur, Vincent Mason, Kelvin Mercer
Ages: 44, 43, 43
Hometown: Amityville, N.Y.
Rapping since: 1987
First big break: Meeting producer Prince Paul, who signed the group to Tommy Boy Records
Total knockouts: One No. 1 album (1989's "3 Feet High and Rising"), one No. 1 single (1989's "Me, Myself, and I")
Most famous for: Kick-starting socially conscious movement toward positive-minded hip-hop, sampling old jazz records and TV shows, smiling a lot
Pinnacle of career: Early period: 1989 album "3 Feet High and Rising"; middle period: 1996's "Stakes Is High"; 2004 comeback album "The Grind Date"
Initial mainstream exposure: British magazine NME naming "3 Feet" its 1989 Album of the Year
Ultimate street cred: Staying true to their enlightened, neo-hippie "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" lyrical content
Raciest round: 2001 single "Baby Phat," which celebrated plus-size women
Lowest below-the-belt hit: Teaming up with Nike for 2009 fitness-oriented mixtape "Are You In?"
Nastiest bare-knuckle moment: 1991 single "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa Claus," which addresses incest and sexual abuse
Political haymakers: N/A (too mellow)
Latest brawl: New single "Get Away," first in nine years, came out in April; long-in-the-works album, "You're Welcome," due later this year
Extracurricular rope-a-dopes: Winning Grammy Award with art project/rap-rock band Gorillaz, promoting independent hip-hop via the Spitkicker collective
(Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, DJ Lord, S1Ws [bodyguard/dancers], Terminator X [retired])
Real names: Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, William Jonathan Drayton, Jr., Richard Griffin, Lord Aswod, Khari Wynn, Norman Rogers
Ages: 52, 54, 52, N/A, 31, 46
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
Rapping since: 1982
First big break: Single "Public Enemy Number One," released in 1987 to promote Adelphi University's WBAU radio station
Total knock-outs: Two No. 1 albums (1988's "It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" and 1991's "Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black"), one No. 1 single (1989's "Fight The Power")
Most famous for: Pro-black, self-aware political agitation, radical anthems "Don't Believe the Hype" and "Fight the Power," landmark production team The Bomb Squad, Flavor Flav's giant clocks
Pinnacle of career: 1990 album "Fear of a Black Planet" selected in 2005 by Library of Congress for preservation
Initial mainstream exposure: "Bring the Noise," pioneering 1991 rap-metal collaboration with Anthrax
Ultimate street cred: 25th anniversary concert held for free on L.A.'s Skid Row instead of in nearby Grammy museum
Raciest round: Flavor Flav's reality dating-game show "Flavor of Love"
Lowest below-the-belt hit: Official logo features police officer in crosshairs
Nastiest bare-knuckle moment: 2012 album "Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp"
Political haymakers: Nagging allegations of anti-Semitic and homophobic lyrics, longtime support for the Nation of Islam, upbraiding Western leaders for empire-building via rape, murder and pillaging
Latest brawl: Inducted into the Rock ‘n' Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year
Extracurricular rope-a-dopes: Retired member Terminator X raises African black ostriches; Chuck D is an author, label owner and indefatigable political activist; Flavor Flav owns several chicken-and-rib restaurants.