Authentic review by LL Cool J

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  • Released: Apr 30, 2013
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 3.9 (60 votes)
LL Cool J: Authentic
3

Sound — 7
LL Cool J has been around for quite a while now, having started his career with the release of his album "Radio" in 1985. Since that time he has been really active, both as a rapper and as an actor. "Authentic" is LL Cool J's 13th studio album, and it seems like he pulled all of his tricks out of the bag for this one. While there are some tracks that sound like they are using old 808 programmed drums and midi instrumentation there are many more with authentic instruments. Almost every track on the album has guest appearances by other musicians/artists. A fuller list of guests includes Fitz & The Tantrums, Eddie Van Halen, Charlie Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Fatman Scoop, Seal, Earth Wind & Fire, Melody Thornton, Bootsy Collins, Travis Barker, Chuck D, Tom Morello, Z-Trip, Mickey Shiloh, Monica, and most surprisingly, Brad Paisley. There are 12 tracks on the album, which clocks in at just under 48 minutes. The album starts and ends pretty strong but throughout there are moments when my attention began to wane a little bit, only to get pulled back in the next moment. Musically, the album is very diverse for a hip hop album the beats actually have a pretty strong techno vibe going on for the songs that don't have a heavy rock vibe.

Lyrics — 7
LL Cool J still maintains the old school rap style that has made him a success. While modern rappers are turning to intense auto-tune and heavy processing, LL Cool J is still using very sparse processing, mainly in the form of mild reverbs and chorus effects. Probably the most outstanding vocal guest on the album would be Seal, who lends vocals to the track "Give Me Love". Also worth mentioning are the contributions by Snoop Dogg and Bootsy Collins on "Bartender Please", as well as Earth, Wind & Fire and Melody Thornton on "Something About You". The opening track "Bath Salt" borrows some lyrics from "Push It", but also has the best line from the album, "Got my hand on my nuts/ that's product placement." No matter how many times I hear that, it doesn't get old. Here are a few lyrics from the track "Whaddup": "Time to put em in the dirt/ somebody getting hurt/ hard time, gets rough/ I took a look at my life/ cuts like a knife/ What I have is not enough/ I got a lot on my mind/ cross the line/ Home boy I cut you up/ no reason to rhyme/ out comes the 9/ you lose your mind." And then from the track "We're The Greatest": "Knock knock who's there/ the one, remember me/ I'm kinda looking different these days/ don't you agree/ your boys' going big these days/ didn't you see/ the hell with the devil/ there's no sympathy/ the wishes in my past are still ridin' me/ all I can do is laugh as they lie to me/ you can't take my God from inside of me/ crosses up, light up the sky with me/ I get a lot of crazy crazy on my mind/ Like what's the real reason the pope resigned/ I got Van Halen, I don't need a bassline." So, the lyrics stay pretty interesting and LL Cool J doesn't rap so fast that you can't understand what he's saying. Pretty decent lyrics from what I've listened to and looked at on lyrics sites.

Overall Impression — 7
To be honest, I wouldn't have called myself an LL Cool J fan before listening to this album, and I'm not sure that I would afterwards but, I definitely enjoyed a lot of the album and gained a lot of respect for LL Cool J. I was really surprised at the level of Eddie Van Halen's involvement on the album as you can hear his guitar on several tracks. Approaching the album as a fan of rock more than rap, my favorite tracks tended to be "We're The Greatest (featuring Eddie Van Halen)" and "Whaddup (featuring Chuck D., Travis Barker, Tom Morello & Z-Trip)". I've also loved everything I've ever heard Bootsy Collins be involved with, and that includes the track "Bartender Please (featuring Snoop Dogg, Bootsy Collins & Travis Barker)". My least favorite song from the album is "Closer (featuring Monica)", that also happens to sample from the track "I Like" by Guy. The only other track to sample from an established track is "Whaddup" which samples from "Welcome To The Terrordome" by Public Enemy. I'm not especially fond of "Live For You (featuring Brad Paisley)", because somehow Braid Paisley's vocals give the song a boy band vibe.

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58 comments sorted by best / new / date

    katalyzt13
    man, I don't understand the hostility towards LL Cool J and the low ratings. I mean, are you rating it low because you didn't think it was a good album in its genre or because it isn't a genre you like?
    iommi600
    Here's the logic: >rap >low rating >downvotes I gave up on trying to convince people around here that intelligent life in rap music does exist, and actually quite a long time ago.
    pwninator123
    Exactly, it's one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and varied genres around. The fact that most people here can't accept it while their idols tend to take a lot of influence from it is hilarious.
    iommi600
    @pwninator123 True, haha, it bothers me immensely that some people around here only get to know one or two rap artists before dismissing the whole genre as crap. That's like listening to Rush and Led Zeppelin and dismissing rock music as a whole. Ice Cube, Nas, 2Pac, Notorious BIG, Mos Def, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Eazy-E and Tha Lench Mob are only a few examples among a sea of good rap. Most of their lyrics criticizes relevant social issues like poverty, drug dealing, gang violence, police violence, racism, etc etc. It'd be very narrow minded to not, at least, respect them.
    vppark2
    ^Btw, Im not the biggest fan of him, but I do respect the guy. I like rappers who actually arent cluttered in their songs with other guests. Ill throw DJ Khaled and his whole crew under the bus for that.
    Municipal Waste
    Varied sure, but intelligent and beautiful are subjective. The opinions of those who don't like rap are just as valid as those who do.
    iommi600
    @Municipal Waste - Wouldn't call "intelligent" a subjective thing. Being a fan of rap music, I just can't seem to like anything by The Notorious BIG (please, don't kill me), but I respect his lyrics a lot. They approach all the gang violence, drug dealing and poverty of the ghettos brilliantly. Can we really dismiss them as "dumb" or anything like that based solely on our opinions? I agree with you on the rest, though.
    Municipal Waste
    Kidnapping kids, raping them and throwing them over a bridge is hardly brilliant. BIG was just a big scum bag who made a lot of money off of depravity. The only rapper I would credit with any intelligence would be Canibus.
    iommi600
    I'm not here to judge if rappers were scumbag criminals or not, I'm talking about their lyrics. Directly or indirectly, talking about gun violence and other social issues is a good way to, at least, denounce these problems. You can't deny intelligence or cultural factors on the approaching, from the good or the bad side, of social issues. The point I make is: how "empty" and dumb these lyrics are? If you're really wanting to go for some "less violent" lyrics, check "Things Done Changed" or "Everyday Struggle" by BIG.
    Municipal Waste
    So how do you feel about da lynch mobs lyrics that deal with killing white people? I don't listen to rap. I like classical, metal and bluegrass.
    iommi600
    Like I've said, the approaching from the good or the bad side must be noted. It's indeed not good to go all eye for an eye, but lyrics dissing all white people shows all the racial tensions from the 80s and 90s. Black people being shot down arbitrarily by the police, the lack of concern of the authorities about the conditions of their lives, etc etc. Let's remember: USA was still only starting to walk away from racial segregation, a process that is not complete nowadays, let alone only 20 years after movements like Martin Luther King's struggle and contemporary to the Los Angeles riots, for an example. Again, I'm not saying its right to fight racism with racism (any kind of racial segregation is terrible in my book), but we can extract noteworthy social and cultural problems from lyrics like these. Also, the majority of marginalized groups didnt get access to quality education or even any education at all, so its not hard to find twisted morals, knowledges and values among gang members, for an example (not saying this is a rule, but it is likely to happen). Which, by the way, is ANOTHER terrible social problem. See, it is like a snowball. Also, Da Lench Mob wrote some lyrics just to take the piss out of the whole thing, admittedly. Theyre ALMOST like the S.O.D. of rap music. (Remember Speak English Or Die, telling immigrants to GTFO of the USA? That also caused a lot of controversy back then.)
    Municipal Waste
    You're alright in my book. At least you can think for yourself. Too bad bands like Arghoslent don't get the same treatment from major labels like Sony because they have songs about the triangle trade and racial tension. Seems like a double standard where I come from, but whatever. Times are a changin'.
    iommi600
    Actually, Da Lench Mob released all their material on independent rap labels at the time. I'm reluctant to the fact that major labels would accept anyone with very controversial views on things. There's also a thin line between racial tension and preaching things like racial supremacy. I never listened to Arghoslent, so I dunno which one applies to them. But yeah, times should be a chagin'.
    vppark2
    Lets just agree that Rick Ross talking about rape in one of his songs is offensive. I respect Biggie because he actually had noteworthy meaning and depth towards his music, not this Rick Ross guy blabbing about his rozay, bugattis, and diced pineapples (that right there already says how much of a dumbass he is), and as a guy who isnt rap music's biggest fan, I do respect some in today's music (Common, Nas, Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock, Lecrae, Lupe Fiasco, Hopsin, Tyler, The Creator, Andy Mineo, Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko). I normally dont turn to anything else outside of that type, however Im up and down with Wale lately. I enjoyed his past 2 albums, but the latest mixtape didnt do much for me. A$AP Rocky is also up in the air for me in the lyrics at least. He is a good rapper but I think he will turn into another Tyga, or Wiz Khalifa since he is falling into the same category as them as for the drugs, money, and partying topics. Hope this wasnt a long comment but thats my take on rap today.
    vppark2
    Its just not...good. He relies way too much on collaborations on this. Remember how much of a beast he was on Mama Said Knock You Out? I miss that.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    that's the number one problem with rap today, is the artists sound like guests on their own records, the only albums that ever got away with that were Dr. Dre.
    vppark2
    LL Cool J it's 2013. Why are you here??
    saint_berzerker
    Life goes on, man...you want the guy to give up?
    vppark2
    He just isnt great or relevant as he once was. Im all for changing the way hip-hop is going nowadays, but this isnt doing much.
    Zerath
    Compare this to songs like "Highscool" by Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne and you'll see that he is still relevant (unless you like ear cancer). Personally I like hiphop more in the style of The Roots.
    Jugulator_cro
    I don't think music should ever be compared to mainstream pop. Saying it's better than the worst there is isn't much
    filipe26
    Sticking my nose without being asked, i like Atmosphere. Their lyrics are so real and without mental disorder bias that it's really cool to hear. ^_^
    Wininacan
    im with you, LL Cool J is shit. Especially that song with brad paisley.... one of the lines is like "yo, you let me have dem gold chains, ill forget about yo iron chains" Apperently blacks being allowed to purchase and wear jewelery makes slavery all good.
    guitarist5477
    I agree with the reviewer with the album being a 7, a rating of 4.8 for this album isn't accurate at all
    Boz0r
    Is it just me, or is this guy always pouting? Like he's always half-way to a duckface.
    LightxGrenade
    I know this sounds weird but it's kinda his "signature" look lol. In the late 80's he was probably raps biggest sex symbol and he use to do this thing where he was constantly licking his lips and pouting, it would drive women nuts. Personally I love it because it's so f-ing ridiculous lol, reminds me of Ben Stiller in Zoolander.
    bustapr
    i must say I really enjoyed that song "give me love". its been years since I last enjoyed a good rap song. i noticed theres been some pretty lame users who auto-rated this very low just because its a rap album.
    filipe26
    Check out Atmosphere if you will, they're one of the smartest bands around regarding lyrics! ^_^
    Explorer939
    What iz dis stuf doin on a guitar/headbanger/rock/jazz/blues enthusiast website??? And what on EARTH is guitar legend EDDIE VAN HALEN doing with those guys??? Yuck it makes me sick.... \m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/
    Skyvalve2012
    Does UG have any other GUITAR albums to do besides this? Oh wait, they DON'T!!!!
    duncang
    This album's got loads of famous and well-liked guitarists on it! It's not like he's got Eddie Van Halen in to drop some beats
    Skyvalve2012
    I still don't hear them play a rock song...UG is for Rock ang guitars, not Rap. End of story, bye bye, see ya later.
    Bazz22
    Actually, UG is for music as a whole. Nowhere does it say that this is strictly a "rock" site.
    sonofgkex
    Yeah, and the EVH part of the last song is so much better than the sample that was on here last month. Actually worked this time. Interesting, at least.
    mjones1992
    Actually thought this was decent...just sayin...the whole brad paisley thing was weird, but it's got some solid songs on it. Better than most of what's coming out these days.
    brian.theisen.5
    I think its a great CD, its way better than anything these other dudes are putting out. A lot of reviewers/blogs not giving him a fair shake, what would ya'll rather have kanye, Nikki Minag and more lil wayne...at least this CD and each one he does has quality and substance....
    Amito
    the song Whaddup is pretty good, the rest of the album was pretty bland. Give me love is alright too.