Friday, August 28, 2015

mama said knock you out

LL Cool J struck a balance between hard and soft with the funky smooth boomin' beats of this soulful showdown.    Despite his three platinum albums (Radio in 1985,  Bigger and Deffer in 1987,  and  Walking with a Panther in 1989), James Todd Smith aka  LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James) was having trouble being taken seriously in the rap community.  LL considers:   “I think people were searching for weakness.  It was a timing thing; it was my time to get it in the back. Every great champion at some point gets back on the ropes or takes something some people consider to be a fall. You just got to keep on doing what you’re doing and work it out...I’m in this race with myself, nobody else. What [political rappers] eat doesn’t make me go the bathroom so I’m not thinking about it.  I love the fact that black people are becoming aware of their culture, but I make this music to have fun. Everything is humorous; I don’t mean any of it. Personally I prefer records like ‘Me So Horny’ by the 2 Live Crew. They’re not rapping about being black, they’re rapping about being horny. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

The genesis of the album came when DJ Marley Marl invited LL to WBLS to promote Walking with a Panther.  Marl reveals:   “Me and LL had...we had, like, semi-beef from the MC Shan era. So at first we weren’t really getting along. I was down with the Juice Crew, and he was down with the Def Jam crew, so it was almost like a friendly rivalry going on...I guess he was astonished that I would even tell him to come to the radio station and promote his album. But that was the first time we ever really, really connected right there. It was something we just conceptually ran in the studio and started making tracks together and building good tracks...Next thing you know, we started making other tracksWe didn’t know where we were going with it. It became the Mama Said Knock You Out LP, but we were just making random tracks...going to the clubs . . . after we went to the clubs, going home and trying to capture the same feeling in the studio with the music. All of a sudden, we’re, like, eight tracks in, and I didn’t even have a contract to do an album with him. We were just grooving. After we were in the studio and we felt each other, we just kept it moving...It just showed another side of LL. It showed his growth, too. You gotta think—he was actually growing up at that time. He was rhyming over some hard tracks. His other tracks were hard, too, but this had a little street element to it this time. A little dirt. A little Queensbridge dirt was sprinkled on it, you know. It’s one of the albums that helped shape the direction of where rap and everything was going at that time.”

The sessions took place at Unique Recording Studios in New York City and were produced by Marley Marl and co-produced by LL Cool J.   "Jingling Baby (Remixed but Still Jingling)" was produced by LL Cool J and remixed by Marley Marl and the title track which was co-produced by Bobby "Bobcat" Erving.   

LL recounts:    "My next album, 'Mama Said Knock You Out', took me to another level musically, but my lifestyle only got worse.  The year I did that album, gangsta rap had become huge...They were talking about finding power in drive-bys and killing police, and they were really speaking to a whole generation of disillusioned and angry youth.  My style had been getting a little tired, and I knew I wasn't feeling the people anymore.  The backlash I got from 'Panther' had shaken my confidence...I had to regroup.  So I went back to the beginning, to Grandma's.  One night, I left the studio early and just went to the house where it all began, into the basement so I could thing and get connected.  My grandmother knew something was up.  She came down and asked me what was the matter.  
   'Grandma, I don't know if I have it anymore,' I said. 'I feel like all these other guys are getting over...It's changed so much...I can't do it the way they do it.  What's selling now is something totally diferent.'
   She said, 'Oh, baby, just knock them out!'  And she went back upstairs.
   Knock them out?  I thought.  Yeah, I'll knock them out.  I rolled the idea over and over again in my brain.  And that night I started writing."

'Mama Said Knock You Out' rose to number forty-nine in the UK, thirty-two in Canada, sixteen on the US pop album chart, and number two on the US R&B album chart.    The album went double platinum and regained his street cred.

"Mama Said Knock You Out" went to number one on the rap singles chart and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance

"Around The Way Girl" went all the way to the top of the rap chart.

LL Cool J - Around The Way Girl by giorgioard

"The Boomin' System" was another rap chart topper.

"6 Minutes Of Pleasure"

'Mama Said Knock You Out' 
full album:

The Boomin' System -0:00
Around The Way Girl - 3:44
Eat 'Em Up L Chill - 7:51
Mr. Good Bar - 12:32
Murdergram - 16:17
Cheesy Rat Blues - 20:13
Farmers Blvd. (Our Anthem) - 25:22
Mama Said Knock You Out - 29:51
Milky Cereal - 34:43
Jingling Baby (Remix) - 38:40
To Da Break Of Dawn - 43:39
6 Minutes Of Pleasure - 48:13
Illegal Search - 52:49
The Power Of God - 57:24

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