Ladies Love Cool James
At this time he begun drowning his sorrows in drugs and groupie attention not unlike most stressed teenage sensations dragged under by the strong torrents of fame. Through 1989 after dropping Walking Like a Panther he held onto the sweet candy flavour of commercial materialism and narcissism with sparkling jewellery and loose women, a trend most popular in today’s culture. His pre-dated timing was off by a long shot, surrounded by pressure to represent a pro-black empowerment culture, the afrocentric trend in hip-hop set by hardcore groups, Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy and X-Clan had him booed at a rally in Harlem for Yusef Hawkins who was murdered by a gang of white teenagers in Bensonhurst in ’89 LL presented a different type of black panther, seen as a throwback to shallower times. “That crowd expected me to be on the pro-black red-black and green kick and I wasn’t prepared to compromise myself.” He told Details magazine, “I love my culture, I love being black but it’s not something I want to talk about all day.” With the most powerful ego in music, and defiant in the face of black brotherhood LL continued his barrage of pathological self-promotion with the song "I’m That Type of Guy" admitting to being the type of guy who will fuck your woman behind your back and drive off in your new ride. Together with the ‘Big Ole Butt’ ode to cheating on girls made the now egocentric classic record platinum.
Mama Said Knock You Out
In 1990 bruised from the blows, he had a comeback like Mike Tyson out of jail. This former king of the stage was released fucking angry and hungry, dripping fangs with the taste for blood and an urge to re-establish himself in the community and regain that heavyweight crown. Amerced in damp training sessions, raw workouts and away from distractions, the stripped down, muscular and deadly Marley Marl produced double-platinum fourth album ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ hit the streets, the masterpiece cowered any gangsta rap release. The title track is considered the hungriest hip-hop cut ever created. He performed this live during an episode of MTV Unplugged with unrelenting hardcore threat.(This was the first time a rapper performed on MTV Unplugged) With "Boomin’ System" became the new soundtrack of the summer for sound systems in cars cruising the strip. Covering every aspect of the dynamic climate he satisfied the boyz n the hood with the race profiling highway patrol on "Illegal Search". LL comes out swinging with nothing to lose, battling OG’s Ice-T, MC Hammer and old foe |Kool Moe Dee on "To Da Break of Dawn". The old classic womaniser licked his lips once again on ‘Around the Way Girl’ with less hyper-confidence in his tone. He even showed his vulnerability as he leaned against the ropes with ‘Cheesy Rat Blues’ with the mature realization of his past insincerities. LL came out with a Grammy award and the album boasted a sale of over 2 million. This was easily the hardest record he ever made and his reputation was back as the Baddest Mutha. This new two-time champion landed his first acting role on the film, The Hard Way with James Woods where he performed the wicked knockout hit. This era would mark another self-reinvention LL would endure in order to adapt and re-adapt to the reshaping mould of hip-hop.
After his acting début in The Hard Way he released his fifth album in 1993 14 Shot to the Dome amidst a personal avalanche crumbling in his life. He went through a separation from his estranged wife and mother of his child, Simone who had filed a restraining order against him. An IRS debt of $2million he believes due to his birth-father embezzling his finances tore LL apart and he finally broke down. The signs of remorse and vulnerability came across from the single "Crossroads" served up complete with an 18 piece orchestra under an angelic chorus. LL had fallen victim to the overpowering forces of west coasts’ gangsta juggernaut and built himself into a gun-toting Queens knucklehead, reinventing himself yet again. The album spawned an ever-sexual temptation hit ‘Back Seat’ for his ladies and the Freudian interpretation "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings". A drop in sales when compared to his prior release, with mixed reviews but 14 Shots at the time selling only 800,000 units… still holds up against the pop-rap trend of today.
In The House
Cool J performed at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration and took his first leading role in ‘Out of Sync’ which was a miserable flop grossing a mere $10,000. Afraid his career was finally on the decline he promoted his spiritual advisor Charles Fisher into his manager. He took on the more positive role and opened up Camp Cool J a program for dis-advantaged children. By ’95 he had a contract with NBC to star on the sitcom called ‘In the House’ painting himself as a big daddy around the house, a Will Smith-Fresh Prince family man. The new once again LL had become a marketable billboard advertisement. Endorsements and all-American smiles overtook his ambition as a trailblazing rap phenomenon. In 1996, continuing his marketing exploit, LL helped launch the FUBU (For Us, By Us) clothing line meaning that the clothes were made for and marketed to black people by a black person. Before this venture took off in late ‘95 he produced another album, Mr. Smith that seemed dedicated to placating the ladies, thusly having great success as a pop-rap release and sold over 2million copies. His hit singles, "Doin’ It" and "Loungin’" became the biggest circulating jams of 1996. Both music videos were hugely popular on MTV. Another hit ‘Hey Lover’ featuring R&B crooners Boys II Men eventually became the first rap video to screen on American VH1. The single also landed LL with another Grammy award.
After the relative success of his last album LL continued to pull in lackluster acts to aid his sales and in the ’97 Phenomenon album, apart from a lasting glimmer of his larger than life ego, sporting a new brash tattoo on his right arm of a crowned mic with Mr. Smith written in, (a look Canibus used against him in his battle tracks) the album contained the biographical tear jerking story of his grief-stricken childhood. He show-cased his old-school natural ability to put down knife-edged badass rhymes, cutting slices through Canibus in "Return of the Ripper". But in June 1998 LL Cool J announced his recording career will take aback seat to pursuing interest in acting. For this it wasn’t until 2000 did we see another LL record hit the streets, his latest album The DEFinition in 2004 is perhaps his most complete and cohesive project since Mr. Smith. This birthed two hits, Headsprung and Hush.