Review : LL Cool J - Exit 13
RapreviewsDivorce rates are down to their lowest level for many years in the UK - unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case in Def Jam. After pumping all their cash into one-hit wonders, Rihanna/Ne-Yo and marketing for any time that Jay-Z rolls out of bed, they seem to be casting off deadwood. Calling LL Cool J "deadwood" is something that you wouldn't really do to his face, and the big man has finally had enough of being treated like a third rate rapper. Without doubt, he isn't the artist he was a decade ago (or even two decades ago) but surely he is relevant enough to keep on? Def Jam disagreed, and James Todd Smith is planning his exit on his thirteenth album. The result is as acrimonious a break-up as you will hear on wax, but were you really expecting anything else from a man with an ego the size of a private island? LL doesn't want alimony. He wants revenge.
Has he successfully cooked up that dish best served cold? There are three points that jump out immediately: the obvious effort put into the album (more than his last three albums put together); the relegation of his usual ladies anthems to only about 30% of the LP, favouring harder street anthems; and the fact that he swears more than the rest of this decade combined (most of it being vitriol aimed at Def Jam). All that effort results in his best musical album for a long time - whilst the last few albums have possessed a couple of hot singles and whole lot of filler, this reverses that trend. There aren't many jaw-dropping instrumentals or even massive singles, but that level of consistent dopeness is there - and it is, somewhat like "Tha Carter III," an album that will sit most comfortably in your car stereo. The album is certainly a touch too long, and later songs like the desperate cheese-fest "American Girl" could have been culled - he sounds like the aural version of that creepy friend of yours that spends a little too much time downloading porn... Still, it is obvious that for the first time in a long while, Hollywood has had to play second fiddle to hip hop....full text
NytimesIs L L Cool J, who released his first 12-inch single back in 1984, “a relic from some long-forgotten game”? That question obsesses him on “Exit 13,” his last album for the Def Jam label. Between movie and television gigs, L L Cool J, 40, has treated his rhyming career as a comeback at least since 1990. And the more besieged he feels, the better his rhymes get. When he’s on, he can still rival that upstart Jay-Z for enunciation, rhythmic change-ups and stringing together simile after simile. He adapts easily to the younger generation’s production styles, from bombastic to robotic, as he juggles old-school reminiscences and newer mannerisms.
To his credit, L L Cool J is too romantic to treat women as crudely as younger rappers do. And while this 76-minute album flags near the end, there’s still more than enough smooth-tongued, quick-witted rhyming to justify his boasts. May his successors keep him on the defensive....full text
NowtorontoWith Common and Xzibit taking the Hollywood roles that James Todd Smith might have chewed on a few years ago, it’s good to know that LL Cool J has recovered from the 2000-era drubbing he received from Canibus and is still capable of knocking out a decent album. Simply running through his extensive resumé makes for impressive subject matter when welded to orchestral, bombastic production. That never gets old if done right, and that happens often here. ...full text
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