LL Cool J

429 Records, 2013

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


I was a big fan of Cool J’s when I was younger. I must have played his best albums, 1985’s Radio and 1990’s Mama Said Knock You Out hundreds of times throughout my teenage years. At his best, Cool J was a master of mixing genres and collaborating with an array of different artists and somehow managing to get the most creative moments out of them. In recent years, however, Cool J has fallen into the trap of following current trends: letting anyone who is anyone grace his works, with all too familiar results. His last good album was six records and almost ten years ago (that of course being the solid and mostly pleasing my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 10).

During those years, there has been no shortage of quantity but a definite decline in quality, which has made a once big fan like myself very wary of buying new releases. I keep hoping for a return to form much like some of his contemporaries have done so over the last few years, namely R. Kelly. Clearly, though, I still buy his albums because there are always some great tracks on them despite how messy and chaotic some of his recent releases have been.

This year’s new offering Authentic is no exception whatsoever. It is stuck together in a chaotic fashion and although it contains a couple of gems, it is for the most part a messy and incoherent affair. The best moments come when Cool J gets in touch with his younger and hipper self, most notably with the great Bootsy Collins on the funk-jam “Bartender Please.” The sexy R-Rated “Between The Sheetz” (with Mickey Shiloh) is a fine groove, and Seal’s lead vocal on “Give Me Love” helps to lift that one above the pack as well. “Whaddup” is old-school hip-hop, albeit from the Prince & N.P.G. class of ’95; but it’s good fun.

The only other track worth mentioning is the album’s opener “Bath Salt,” and that’s only because it’s marginally better than the rest of the stuff served up here and unfortunately contains the rather ironic line: “Never tried to sound like a rapper I raised.” Elsewhere, Eddie Van Halen throws down some stuff he could do in his sleep on a couple of tracks, while further guest spots from Brad Paisley, Monica and Charlie Wilson offer nothing even remotely memorable.

Unfortunately, Authentic is anything but; it may be a long wait for Cool J to hit pay dirt again, but I’m not holding my breath.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 429 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.