For the first time, Austin City Limits Festival’s biggest legacy artist was a hip-hop act, L.L. Cool J. A massive crowd came out for his 4 p.m. set on Saturday afternoon.
So how did one of rap’s original superstars hold up? Depending on who you talk to, the 48-year-old rapper was either corny, or looking remarkably good for someone whose heyday as a sex symbol was well over two decades ago. Here are five things that happened at his set.
1. He represented for the old school. Images of boom boxes? Check. Break dancers in Addidas track suits? Check. Cuts and scratches on the wheels of steel? Check.
2. He also represented for hip-hop’s older fans. Somewhere along the line, pogo-jumping and near mosh pit situations became mandatory at hip-hop shows. L.L. Cool J understands that some of us are too old for that nonsense. Instead, he insisted we pulse our hands in the air. We pulsed like we just didn’t care.
3. He played the hits. There were some new tracks in the mix, but in a set bookended by “Mama Said Knock You Out” at the top and “Rock the Bells” at the end, he mixed in all the songs we wanted to hear.
4. But there was that weird mash up. Love you, L.L., but whose idea was it to mix “Sweet Home Alabama” into a perfectly lovely rendition of “I Need Love”?
5. And he handed out roses. Before said questionable love song mash up, the hip-hop Lothario walked onto stage with a bouquet of roses which he tossed into the crowd as hearts and rose petals floated across the same big screen that flashed boomboxes and cityscapes earlier in the set.
For a few male colleagues this was the peak of his credibility-straining goofiness. But some of us understand “hip-hop ladies man” was always one of LL Cool J’s key selling points. That was just a very well-toned gentleman in a muscle-hugging t-shirt demonstrating how he’s still got the goods to make the girls swoon.