If anyone knows a little bit about the history of hip hop music, you’ve probably heard of James Todd Smith, also known as LL Cool J. His career has spanned decades (first album dropped in 1985) and has been marked by hits like “Hey Lover,” “Mama Said Knock You Out,” and “Around The Way Girl.” In his prime, he used rock Kangols to cover up that large dome (head) of his, thick gold rope chains around his manly neck, and often, no shirt, or a really tight one. If you google images of him, it appears not much else has changed since then.
You may be wondering why I have chosen to write about the self proclaimed “greatest of all time” (or G.O.A.T.). (This is a declaration I disagree with, but that is for another post.) If you ever watch MTV, you know that they tend to highlight an artist every week…and guess who’s all over their airwaves this week? Mr. Ladies Love Cool James himself.
It is not the idea that he is highlighted at all that is worth noting. Its the feeble attempt at wittiness and album promotion that strikes me. In the commercial shorts, the viewer finds LL under heavy make up to exaggerate his already old age (for hip hop) rapping in a nursing home, walking with canes, stroking old ladies’ legs, and giving dap to a man that looks like my grandpa. Besides this being weird and kinda gross, as LL claims to be such a sex symbol, it further proves his lameness.
After releasing 12 albums, he has finally reached the end of his contract at Def Jam. Thank goodness. Let’s think for a moment, people. In the last 10 years or so, what has LL done that has really made him the “G.O.A.T.” And no ladies, taking his shirt off every chance he gets and licking his lips like he has a bad case of cotton mouth does not qualify him for hip hop greatness. Though it does make a girl feel warm nice and respectful.
While he surely has proven longevity, largely because it was required as per his contract, what else has he done for you lately? In 1997ish, he beefed with Cannibus, and came out rapping like the young LL we once knew. His lyrical skill and toughness resurfaced around the same time “Phenomenon” dropped. What a way to send mixed messages.
He has always walked this line of sexy tough guy rapper that never really sat well with me. The video for his new single featuring The Dream entitled “Baby,” looks like so many videos I’ve seen before. LL is wearing a tights t-shirts and fitteds to match rapping in a club in one scene, giggling with model chic in others, and dancing in front of strobe like lights as he spreads his arms wide talking about how much he loves women. Great. Thanks.
Basically, I’m tired of seeing him make music. Sure, he has a body and smile that could make many women throw her morals to the wind. That mic tatt is pretty cool. But outside of these things, I’m not sure what he are really bringing to hip hop by releasing a new album. Besides a reminder of how old and outdated he is.
I hope that with the release of more tracks, I will think differently. Syke.