LL COOL J
Def Jam Records
August 24, 2004
Rap music and hip-hop culture is known for many things. Longevity isn’t one of them. Oh sure, there are exceptions to this un written, unspoken rule but for the most part hip hop heroes explode on to the scene, make their mark with a few hot joints, establish a brief yet impactful iconic presence and then as the sales figures start to turn downward, slink out of view, resurrected only for award shows, retrospectives and nostalgic anthologies.
Then there is LL Cool J.
The title of LL Cool J’s11th album on Def Jam Records is DEFintion and it finds the veteran crowd pleaser and lyricist headed for the club and banging out bass blessed, up tempo jams that are sexy, summery and totally LL. Working with a host of top notch producers key among them Timbaland, (who contributed among others the sizzling single “Head Sprung”) as well as 7, Clark Kent and Dame Grease, recorded in Miami and NYC and featuring collabos with Timbaland and R Kelly DEFfintion is more than just another hot LL Cool J record: it is one more step in a journey that has continuously pushed the limits of what hip hop is and can be.
Drawing its vibe and vitality from late night parties, club beats, good times and wild nights, DEFintion, LL declares is” a DJ’s dream” and as such celebrates partying and abandon and does so with a boombastic sound that will get hips moving, lips smacking and head bobbing.
Offers LL, who says he “researched” DEFinition by hitting parties, after parties gigs and jams from LA to Miami, “I wanted to make music that allows people to have a good time. I enjoy the romantic stuff and DEFintion has some of that, as well but I really wanted something that was up in the club. . I think that the people that have been listening to me should expect a really energetic club record.” On joints such as the fired up, Timbaland produced first single “Head Sprung”, the people get what they want. . Asked to describe the song and LL grins.” It means go nuts, basically black out by whatever means and go crazy up in the club. Whatever getting your head sprung means to you, that’s what it represents.” “Head Sprung's B-side, “Feel The Beat” flips the sonic script as LL embarks upon ”a throwback b boy moment” embracing a stance that is street smart and late night cool.
Another hot and cool track is “Rub My Back”, which delivers the loving as only LL has proven he can. Utilizing guitars and horn in an intriquing mix, “Rub My Back” is another LL/Tim project that goes down smooth. Like wise “Hush”, produced by 7. Explains LL, “That song is real melodic and tells a beautiful story about 2 people who are destined to be together no matter what, what occurs and how we all need to just hush and have faith that we can make it”.
In an industry seemingly built upon hype and overstatement of the obvious the basic facts at the core of LL Cool J’s remarkable career require little embellishment. The native of Queens, NYC has been a standard bearer for rap music since 1984 when, at the age of 16, he dropped the breakthrough single “I Need A Beat” on a then fledgling label called Def Jam. “I Need A Beat” would sell 100, 000 copies and in the process not only put Def Jam on the map but establish the teen age microphone fiend as well.
The following year 17-year-old LL released his full-length debut Radio. Containing the smash “Rock The Bells”, Radio went platinum and introduced LL’s stylistic blend of hard-hitting and romantic verses. That ability to switch up the tone helped solidify his unique position as a B Boy the guys admired and the girls sweated. Two years after Radio came Bigger and Deffer and thanks to strong sales, critical acclaim, the love of the fans and singles like “I’m Bad and “I Need Love”, LL had hip hop on lockdown. That trend continued through 1989’s Walking With A Panther, which, like the previous albums, went platinum. Yet it was the triumphant assault 1990’s Mama Said Knock You Out that brought James Todd Smith to a level of creative prowess and mass appeal most rappers can only dream of. Lean, mean and seething with attitude Mama Said Knock You Out reminded anyone who dared harbor doubts that LL Cool J was still at the top of his game. That game continued to pick up steam, sales and more fans through out the 90’s thanks to chart topping albums 14 Shots to the Dome (1993) 1995’s double platinum Mr. Smith (which contained the top 10 hits “Hey Lover” and “Doin It”, All World (96) the following year’s Phenomenon, G.O.A.T (2000) and 2002’s 10 which delivered the hit “Luv U Better” and, as the title would indicate, was LL’s tenth CD.
. Asked to what he attributes his two decade long tenure in a game that isn’t known for brand loyalty and LL reflects.” I’m always expressing myself as an artist in different mediums.” He’s referring to an acting career that includes over 20 feature length films, (including 2003’s surprise hit “Deliver Us From Eva” and box office champ “SWAT”) and numerous roles on the small screen chief among them his starring role in the mid 90’s sit com” In The House”. Look for LL in 3 major films including the much anticipated “Edison” starring Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman.” I have a complete and total career; I'm not just a rapper that’s trying to be an actor. I’ve kind of tapped into more of what’s inside of me and allowed myself to grow in different areas. Doing the same thing over and over, whether its making movies or albums can be boring and that can affect your creativity but by always doing so many things its always exciting. Because I’ve spent the last 2 years doing movies I am really excited about DEFintion”.
That excitement is what we have come to expect from an artist of LL’s caliber and on DEFintion he doesn’t disappoint, Asked what his own definition of the music he’s helped make the sound track of young America and LL replies, “Hip hop is…”. Translation? It can be all things to all people and in the hands of the right practioner shows little if any signs of slowing down or being contained.
Just like LL Cool J.
LL COOL J
Album: The DEFinition
Official site: http://www.defjam.com/llcoolj
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