Capping the 55th GRAMMY Awards, LL Cool J, blink-182‘s Travis Barker, Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello, Public Enemy‘s Chuck D and DJ Z-Trip bridged a wide range of musical genres to unite for a rousing onstage performance based around the song “Whaddup.”
The song incorporated Chuck D rapping lyrics from Public Enemy’s 1990 tune “Welcome to the Terrordome,” followed by a flashy drum solo from Barker. Morello also took a featured guitar solo during the performance. LL Cool J followed an announcement that the collaboration will be included on his latest full-length album, Authentic, due in stores May 7.
How did this eclectic group of artists come together? We asked Z-Trip.
How did the “super-group” come about?
LL called me and said he wanted to do something special on the GRAMMYs. I immediately put the call out to Tom and Travis. We hit up Chuck, got together, jammed for about an hour, and boom. It worked just like I knew it would. This is the A-Team. Everyone involved is a master at what they do. The song we did on the GRAMMYs is up on iTunes today. It’s called, “Whaddup.”
With so many strong personalities, who was the leader?
I definitely was the catalyst, and producer on this with LL as co-captain of the ship. In each department though, we all took turns driving at some point because we are masters of our own departments. When it came to drums for instance, it was like Travis knows exactly what to do, so let him rock, same with Tom, etc. You can point those guys in the direction you are thinking and not have to worry about the outcome. Like I said we’re all masters, so it’s easy. Everyone knows their part and we all know how to work with other masters, so the ball gets passed around a lot.
Did anything funny happen during the practice sessions?
There wasn’t any one thing that stood out so much as it was just a really great environment to work in. Tom always had us cracking up. Aside from being an amazing, conscious guy, dude has an amazing sense of humor. Ask him about the dolphins! Same with LL, he was always cracking jokes between takes, keeping it fun. The crew, everybody. It never felt like work. It never should.
Was this the first time you’ve worked with LL?
No, he and I have been working and performing together over the last year and a half. On stage and in the studio. I produced a Kasabian remix and put LL on it. The track was Days Are Forgotten, Z-Trip remix. It went #1 in the UK and Japan last year.
Were you nervous knowing that this performance will be seen by millions?
I always get a little nervous before a show. It’s never so much about stakes being higher on one performance vs. another, it’s more like you just want to perform at your best, so you get caught up in the actual execution, not the weight of the show. But, with that being said, it is also “The GRAMMYs,” so you have to recognize the severity of that. But ultimately, when you are a part of the A-Team, you can put us anywhere and don’t have to worry, the job is gonna get done.
— Jay Tilles/Scott Sterling, CBS Local