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Hear Eddie Van Halen Perform on Two New LL Cool J Songs

Eddie Van Halen LL Cool J
Jason Merritt, Getty Images for John Varvatos / Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Legendary Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen surprised his longtime fans in March, when he hinted at a collaboration with rapper LL Cool J. Now the two tracks resulting from that meeting of the musical minds have leaked online for all to hear.

The groundbreaking instrumentalist stirred quite a bit of fan debate by tweeting a photo of himself seated at the recording console with the rapper, with a single line of text that read, “Authentic 4.30.13.” It later turned out he was teasing his participation in LL Cool J’s new album ‘Authentic,’ which was finally released Tuesday (April 30).

Van Halen appears on two tracks, ‘We’re the Greatest’ and ‘Not Leaving You Tonight’ — with very different results. On ‘We’re the Greatest’ the guitarist spends most of the song contributing what amounts to a sound collage on the backing track, just adding texture underneath the rapper’s voice. But he cuts loose for a solo beginning at 2:48, turning in a wah-wah-inflected flurry of notes that’s like a master class in his signature moves, combining tapping, slurred phrases and rapid flutter picking in the trademark Eddie Van Halen way.

Hear Eddie Van Halen on ‘We’re the Greatest’

By contrast, ‘Not Leaving You Tonight’ is a rap ballad (if that’s an actual thing that exists) that features Fitz and the Tantums on a sweet harmonized chorus, to which Eddie contributes a more melodic, less distinctively Van Halen-eque solo  (starting at 2:52) with a dry signal that sounds like it might have been plugged in directly instead of played through an amp.

Hear Eddie Van Halen on ‘Not Leaving You Tonight’

So what’s the verdict, Van Halen fans? Do you like the fact that the two new tracks push Eddie Van Halen out of his norm? Or would you rather he stick to what he does best? Sound off in the comments section below — and if you like what you hear, ‘Authentic’ is available for download at iTunes.

Next: The Top 10 Eddie Van Halen Guitar Solos

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