LL Cool J’s Forgotten Queens Trio

Deep in the history books of hip-hop lies a dazzling trio that gave birth to some of the culture’s most defining figures. However, even the most loyal fans of Golden Age rap music may not know they exist. Founded by three Queens teenagers in 1983, the collective might not even be a footnote in the book of hip-hop legends. Always, The Extravagant 3 are far from unimportant when we consider the pioneers it gave birth to, and they are wrongly neglected.

Consisting of Dr. Butcher, Royal Rich, and LL Cool J, the trio served as stepping stones to the upper echelons of hip-hop, each carving out their own place in the culture, respectively. As members of the Extravagant Three, these icons honed their craft and solidified themselves as legends in New York Legends soon after.

The collective lasted six months. During their existence, the friends never made a record or played a single show. However, none of this takes away its importance. Dr. Butcher is best known for his turntablism and beatmaking. After his passage in the Extravagant 3, he will become one of the primary producers for the Juice Crew in the 90s alongside the legendary Marly Marl and Mister Cee.

Butcher counterpart, LL Cool J would rise to dizzying heights of stardom as a solo emcee after securing a record deal with Russell Simmons’ label Def Jam in 1984 while remaining in the underground. Many hip-hop heads see LL Cool J as a standout rapper who just popped up. However, he worked hard for many years in the New York hip-hop scene before and after the Extravagant Three, collaborating with many MCs in the process.

Rap music fans who delve deep enough into the origins of the genre will understand that the Extravagant 3’s apparent omission from the hip-hop history books is simply down to bad timing. The collective formed at the start of a shift in hip-hop culture. It was the end of the era where band names ended in numbers, live instrumentation was used on records, and MCs rapped about block parties and fun.

In the early 1980s, East Coast hip-hop began to embrace drum machines, synthesizers, and scratching. It was then that the culture shifted from funky to brash and electro replaced funk as the most appropriate backbeat to music that was becoming increasingly political and dystopian. A combination of skill, luck, and enthusiasm brought the Extravagant Three together. Yet the abundance of sounds and styles at this critical moment puts them each on very different career trajectories.

Even after becoming a global hip-hop sensation with Platinum albums to his name, LL Cool J still stayed in touch with his former Extravagant Three bandmates. In an interview regarding his relationship with LL Cool J, Dr Butcher explained, “Me and him maintained the best kind of friendship for a long time. He ended up moving to Los Angeles, but every time he was in New York, he made a point of calling me, or we were dating.

So while the Queens trio may not have reached the heights of Run-DMC, the collective remains an important and sadly unrecognized part of hip-hop history, especially in New York City. You can hear their most successful member, LL Cool J’s most renowned single, “Rock The Bells” in the video below.

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