Human nature is a beast. We can look at a structure, marvel at the obvious beauty and grandeur, but ofttimes give little to no thought to those who put in the work. As we near the six-month mark of the year of celebrating hip-hop culture’s birth, it’s bittersweet that we bask in the beauty of what it is at the moment—conspicuous by its absence is the acknowledgment of the visionaries, architects, and builders of this thing. That kind of explains why our artists are more influenced by Jerry Springer than Jerry D Lewis. From here on out for the duration of the year, we gonna drop some seeds on some people, places, and things that are integral to the formation and fortification of what hip-hop is. 

Now to the business of the week,

It appears that instead of looking for an adversary for a Verzus battle, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Kennedy Center Honoree, two-time GRAMMY® Award winner, actor, and author LL COOL J will headline a full-on national tour for the first time in 30 years. For this trek, LL, through his company Rock the Bells, has paired with Live Nation Urban for The F.O.R.C.E. (Frequencies of Real Creative Energy) Live. 

Building on their amazing performance together at the GRAMMY Awards earlier this year, all dates will celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop by featuring collaborative live performances with preeminent award-winning hip-hop band the Roots, legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff, and DJ Z-Trip. Unlike the traditional “opening act—headliner” format, the show will be a nonstop musical mash-up with artist performances interwoven into one continuous musical set, backed by the Roots. In select cities, the bill also boasts a rotating cast of iconic acts, including Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Rakim, Common, MC Lyte, Method Man & Redman, Big Boi, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Ice T, Juvenile, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, De La Soul, Goodie Mob, Jadakiss, Rick Ross, and probably more to follow.

Of the venture, LL COOL J said, “I’m excited to be on my first Arena tour in 30 years. It’s proof that our culture is more viable than ever. Get ready for some non-stop beats and rhymes. See you this summer!” 

The F.O.R.C.E. Live hits the road on June 25 in Boston at the TD Garden before stopping in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on June 27, rolling through arenas across the U.S. and Canada, and closing out on September 3 in Los Angeles at the Kia Forum.

Just as exciting for LL fans is that the tour will be accompanied by new music. A snippet of a track called “FORCE” debuted on Rock the Bells Radio on Thursday, May 4, that might serve as a precursor to the release of the upcoming 14th studio album, which will be produced entirely by A Tribe Called Quest’s lead emcee Q Tip. If rumors hold true, a who’s who of guests, including Nas, Eminem, Fat Joe, Rick Ross, and Saweetie, are just a few of the featured collaborations. 

While his music assures that LL the artist will remain immortal, his Rock the Bells brand looks to secure the presence of hip-hop. During a recent interview on the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, LL revealed, “One of the things I did with Rock the Bells, the company—it’s not just a radio channel, it’s not just a festival, it’s not just the cruise. It’s an actual full company with content, commerce, and experiences. Kool Herc has equity in the company; he owns a piece. Big Daddy Kane owns a piece, Roxanne Shantae owns a piece, Run DMC owns a piece, Jonathan Mannion (the photographer), Salt’n’Pepa own a piece…I made sure that different people had a piece. Eminem actually invested, too. I made sure that people…who started this culture and who helped contribute to this culture deserve to share in the success of the company of Rock the Bells, because I believed from the beginning that it would be a success. Sometimes I’m not even sure they understand what they own now, because Rock the Bells has become something really major.”

Survival through the break of dawn, years. Over. Out. Holla next week, ’til then, enjoy the nightlife.

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