Coming off his debut album, which did not even sell gold and with no hit singles, Jay-Z was determined to be a star. Only one year younger than LL Cool J, Jay-Z decided to hit the streets. While LL was rapping, Jay was on the streets selling drugs. Both men were very wealthy, but only one was legitimate.
Said to have crossed the million dollar mark in 1988, Jay-Z sought to exit the crack game for the rap game. His first two albums spoke heavily of his past wrongdoings. Over time, Jay-Z was able to cut back on his rawness and tell his story over smooth beats. Slowly, but surely, the fans began to love Jay-Z.
Starting with his third studio album, Vol 2. ... Hard Knock Life, the rap game belonged to Jay-Z. Even before the release of this album, Jay-Z was relatively popular. Each year, from his debut album until his "retirement," Jay-Z released a new album. Every album Jay-Z released was met with positive reviews, featured three hit singles, and ended up going platinum. However, LL Cool J chose to stay away from the game, releasing albums every now and again.
Within every half decade an album has come from LL Cool J and he prides himself on being in the game for over twenty years and only releasing 13 albums. He said he was unlike other rappers who crammed so many albums into only a few years. Jay-Z realized he was hot and the only way to stay hot was to keep himself out there. Each time LL Cool J releases an album, he has to win the fans back over. Jay-Z said this is the downfall for rappers like him.
Jay-Z spoke of how he usually releases a new album every year and has the legendary status of the likes of Biggie and Tupac. In the same breath, in 2010 hip hop, Jay-Z is just as popular as Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne. Meanwhile, LL Cool J is relevant, but he will never dominate the game. He spoke of how LL Cool J was upset when his singles were not popular with the radio. Jay-Z said the reason his record was not popular was because he is a New York rapper making music for the South.
While he never mentioned LL Cool J by name, Jay-Z said the reason rappers like him cannot get back into the game is because they still try to act young. LL Cool J came into the rap game as a teenager, but as he got older, he still tries to market himself to the younger generation. Jay-Z, on the other hand, has allowed his music to mature with his age. He used to rap about selling drugs, but once this was no longer a part of his life, the focus went to rapping about his clothing line. Jay-Z used to also be the biggest womanizer in the game.
However, since he has been in a relationship with Beyonce, Jay-Z has not rapped about sleeping with multiple women. LL Cool J is married with grown children, but he still raps about winning the heart of the girl next door and Jay-Z said he would never re-enter the game this way. Jay-Z suggested LL stop using slang words and rap about the life he lives today. Rolling Stone's interview with Jay-Z comes only days after LL Cool J announced his official return to the rap game.