- Release date:
- September 9, 2008
- Artist/Band name:
- LL Cool J
- Record label:
- Def Jam
- Official Web Site:
Backstory: The rapper born James Todd Smith and dubbed LL Cool J has been an icon of hip-hop since he was 17 years old, one of the first artists to help build the almighty Def Jam empire to dizzying heights in the ‘80s alongside artists like Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Now age 40, LL is on his 13th album for Def Jam.
Why you should care: When it comes to rapping, LL is the self-proclaimed “G.O.A.T.” (greatest of all-time), which is a good way to keep people curious. There are certainly a decent number of others who could take a run at that lofty title, but LL still works hard to present a case.
Verdict: LL’s continued passion for music is evident. He fights ageism and irrelevancy in “It’s Time for War,” and ringtone rappers in “Rocking With the G.O.A.T.” and wins both battles. He’s been incorporating the clubby beats and rapid-fire rhymes of the Dirty South for a few years now, and it can be easily heard on songs like the single “Baby” and “Get Over Here,” on which he specifically calls it “Dirty South Yankee music” and says, “It ain’t where you’re from, homie, it’s how hot you are!” In that respect, he’s right. The old goat still has moments of sizzle, after all.
X-Factor: “Exit 13” is LL’s final album under his deal with Def Jam, the longest-running recording contract in hip-hop history. The title suggests that he’s planning to move on, but so far the rapper hasn’t revealed any future plans.