One of the keenest instincts I have to suppress as a reviewer is the desire to see a return to form by a seminal rapper. LL Cool J, iconic author of “Phenomenon” and “I Can’t Live Without My Radio,” is 40 now and releasing his last album with Def Jam. And what better story would there be than a 40-year old rapper writing a poignant album unlike anything he’d ever written before, looking back on his career with pride?
This is not that album.
Instead, LL released a corny album in which he goes through the same paces he’s gone through during his entire career, but just sounds pathetic doing so. There’s not a lot of good stuff here, and you kind of get the impression that LL just wanted to get done with his contract and move on. The most interesting thing about this album is that it’s his last one on Def Jam. This does not inform his songs at all.
A particularly bad offender is first single “Baby,” which sounds less like the author of “Mama Said Knock You Out” and more like the gangsta rap debut of 90s-pop impresarios LFO. Never mind the blatant unbelievability of LL getting drunk and doing some girl in her “daddy’s 64” in an era where “64” is more likely to stand for “Nintendo 64” – and really, LL, her dad’s car? You’re 40. Grow the fuck up. But take this line:
“Im really not sure if her breasts are fake / Cuz wit whipped cream on em, they taste just like cake “
They should name the bad hip hop lines hall of fame after this line. When you go to Queens you will buy a ticket to the LL Cool J CakeTits Memorial Shitty Rap Lyrics Hall of Fame. There is no excuse for the rest of this song. No one has ever written a worse song about driving, getting drunk, and fucking.
I’m just kidding: LL Cool J has written a worse song than “Baby.” That worse song is “Baby (rock remix),” which apparently features Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi (my guess was Huey Lewis mainlining heroin). Is there a worse qualifier in hip hop than “Rock Remix”? The only good way to do a rock remix is to email Jack White an acapella or something. This is an embarrassment.
The rest of the album isn’t much different. There’s a Bush-bashing track that says nothing that Michael Moore didn’t in 2004, followed directly by a track that, while it has an okay beat, should only be performed by someone wearing stilts and an Uncle Sam outfit. I liked this song better when it was called “California Girls” and was by David Lee Roth.
How about “Old School New School,” in which he boasts that he’s “hotter than a helicopter crashin’ in lava” (why a helicopter? are your songs a bad action movie?) a mere 10 seconds after he says he’d “blow like Mt. St. Helens”. Really? Really? Is your flow THAT bad, LL? Streetlight Manifesto are better lyricists. And Streetlight Manifesto is full of horrible lyricists.
“Feel My Heart Beat,” which features 50 Cent, is mildly homoerotic. “It’s Time For War” is pointlessly defensive and doesn’t have much on any other ominous-sounding album opener. And the album-closer, “Dear Hip Hop,” is the kind of crochety respect-your-elders track that’s just late to the “Hip Hop is Dead” bandwagon.
So this is the state of LL Cool J in 2008: half-assed. He’s in it for the paycheck. He doesn’t have anything interesting to say. This is the saddest kind of decay, as there’s going to be no moment when LL realizes he’s a shadow of his former self and needs to make a comeback album: where he just keeps getting worse and worse and caring less and less. Skip this one.
Posted by Joe Kaiser at Sep 15, 2008 02:10 AM
Yikes…that sounds awful. Now I really need to listen to it.
— Mr Mike · Sep 15, 01:54 PM · #
Seriously, how much is Jay-Z paying some music website to rate LL’s new CD? This cd deserves a 9 out of 10, its on fire and on point. Too many haters, giving L his props. The GOAT is back!!!
— Lisa33 · Sep 22, 08:17 PM · #
another bogus review, people trust me this album is fire!!! it’s the album that most people were waiting for…..go get it
— point@u · Sep 23, 03:36 PM · #
Really? Is Jay paying for giving LL bad reviews? If LL keeps putting out records like this, I’ll be rolling in dough.
— joe · Sep 23, 06:23 PM · #
Shit…I wish Jay was paying us.
I think the general rule among rap purists is that the older you are the more people kiss your ass no matter how much you don’t deserve it.
— Mr Mike · Sep 24, 01:24 AM · #