Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 3: LL Cool J - Radio (1985)

The debut album from the Queens legend, James Todd Smith a/k/a LL Cool J. I haven't played this one in quite some time, and you know I love revisits, especially old school ones! Before the start of the "class", here are a few facts heading into this album (and you know I had to conduct research, as well as contribute what I'm already familiar with):

*LL created demo tapes in his grandparents' home in early 1984, in which he sent to record companies, which included a then upstart Def Jam Records

*His first single was the 12 inch "I Need A Beat," which sold over 100,000 copies

*He dropped out of Andrew Jackson High School to record this album, which was the first to be released by Def Jam

Release date- November 18, 1985

All songs produced by Rick Rubin and Jazzy Jay

1. I Can't Live Without My Radio
Man, if there ever was an opening, artistic, apply titled statement, this classic is it, and I don't think anyone but LL could've pulled this off at the time. 
Grade- A+

2. You Can't Dance
Simple yet effective, LL does come a little humorous on this one. I can picture him telling someone that to their face too, lol. "You can't dance!"
Grade- B

3. Dear Yvette
Man, Ms. Yvette had some issues I tell you, lol. She felt the verbal, hip hop wrath of LL on this one. It's strictly for laughs, but LL still brings the lyrics though. 
Grade- A

4. I Can Give You More
While this is about as FAR away from a precursor to "I Need Love" as they come, you got an early glimpse of what LL could and would offer to his lady, no doubt. 
Grade- A

5. Dangerous
LL was dangerous on the mic, while DJ Cut Creator was dangerous on the wheels of steel. What more can you ask for here! 
Grade- A+

6. Three The Hard Way
A brief, funny acapella "intermission" of sorts, along with El Shabazz for the ride, which takes us right into the next CLASSIC.

7. Rock The Bells
Arguably LL's best song ever; if you throw this on today, it'll still have heads nodding, body's moving, and lyrics recited. And who can forgot the memorable opening, not to mention the classic beat and lyrics!! So timeless. 
Grade- A+

8. I Need A Beat (Remix)
A dope remix of his debut 12 inch single. 
Grade- A

9. That's A Lie
Lies, lies, and more lies. You're not impressing Mr. Smith here, lol, and he's in your face with it too! 
Grade- B

10. You'll Rock
No matter what's going down, you're going to rock to/with LL, and shame on you if you don't. The energy, which I will comment on later, is impressive and highly noticeable on this album. 
Grade- A

11. I Want You
This is kind of an unofficial continuation to "I Can Give You More." Another simple yet effective song here, and it closes the album on a good note. 
Grade- A

A TIGHT debut from LL Cool J and a damn good way to begin the legacy of Def Jam Records. Although LL would continue to get better lyrically, he displayed a hunger and energy that was not seen in anyone in hip hop at the time outside of Run-DMC maybe, and it certainly was a welcomed addition. A true classic.

*After selling over 500,000 copies five months after its release, it became certified platinum on April 19, 1989.

Final Grade- A+


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