ARTIST: LL Cool J
YEAR RELEASED: 1985
CHART ACTION: #46 US, #6 R&B, #71 UK
SINGLES: I Can’t Live Without My Radio (#21 Dance, #15 R&B), Rock the Bells (#24 Dance, #17 R&B), I Can Give You More (#21 Dance), You’ll Rock (#59 R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Need a Beat
LINEUP: LL Cool J, DJ Cut Creator. Russell Rush is one one track.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Excellent debut album, minimally produced by Rick Rubin, that displays LL Cool J’s excellent rap and flow, and Cut Creator’s turntables and beats.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hip-hop is so much a production now (some say too much of a production) that listening to this album now is jarring because of its simplicity.
James Tood Smith (LL Cool J) had one single under his belt when Rubin nabbed him and his DJ Jay Philpot (Cut Creator) and unleashed this upon the public. Unadorned beats, splashes of turntables, and Cool J’s raps was all they needed to create an old-school classic.
There’s a soft side to this (“I Can Give You More), but the best cuts are direct and in your face. Most everything works, and it’s a landmark album in hip-hop. I mean, it’s got “Rock the Bells”. That’s all you need, period.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” was featured in the movie Krush Groove.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: A: Stripped down, minimalist hip-hop. The skeleton of the genre. Classic.