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Credit: Andrew Smith

Music

Why Jimmy Page changed his opinion on rap music

In terms of eminence in rock and roll, you don’t get much more significant than Jimmy Page. A bonafide guitar hero who cut his teeth as one of London’s premier session guitarists in ‘Swinging Sixties’ London, Page had a stint in psychedelic pioneers The Yardbirds, before forming one of the most influential bands of all time, Led Zeppelin, in 1968.

Although in The Yardbirds, Page had struck upon something new, darker and heavier than what was the norm in rock at the time, it was in Led Zeppelin where he fully realised his game-changing creative vision. Without him, modern guitar playing would look and sound very different, and in terms of sound, he provides a bridge between the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Tony Iommi.

Page’s playing style can be as visceral one moment and switched to light and airy in the next, and it is for this reason that many hail him as the ultimate guitarist. He understands both sides of the coin, and utilises them properly. 

There are many stellar moments in Page’s discography, and the fact that they remain so mindblowing today reflects just how invigorating Led Zeppelin were when they first burst onto the scene in the late ’60s. 

Outside of music, Page is also an interesting character. Whether it be the story of him purchasing Aleister Crowley’s old house, his lifelong interest in the occult, or the fact that, in general, his storied life reads like a work of fiction, Page’s life and career have been an adventure, to say the least. 

Given that he is one of the definitive guitar heroes, his adventure has led him to work with countless musicians outside of the Led Zeppelin framework, with varying results.

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Famously, one of these collaborations was rapper Puff Daddy. The project came in 1998 when Puff Daddy recreated Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ on his song ‘Come with Me’ for the soundtrack of Godzilla. This partnership would actually see Page change one of his longstanding views that rejected rap’s place in music. He once even said of rappers: “They steal your riffs and then shout at you”.

However, after working with Puff Daddy, the usually open-minded Page was to change his opinion on rap entirely, and for the better. In the years since, he’s admitted that he partly accepted the job to impress his son James, who at the time was a teenager and was a hip-hop fanatic. However, it would be Page who was the most impressed after working with Puff Daddy.  

“It was a real privilege working with him (Puff Daddy),” he told the Independent in 2004. “He has incredible energy and a great imagination”. In fact, this period would see Page accept the biggest bands of the day with open arms, and in the same interview, he revealed himself to be a fan of everyone from The White Stripes to Korn. 

In all honesty, it’s hard to imagine Jimmy Page kicking back and listening to rap, but this is indicative of how he’s managed to stay relevant over the years. He’s kept up with the times, which many of his contemporaries have not. 

Listen to ‘Come with Me’ below.