Saturday, September 12, 2009

478. Radio- for God’s sake switch it off.


Album: Radio.

Artist: LL Cool J

Year:1985

Genre: Rap.

Tracks:

1. I can't live without my radio 5:27
2. You can't dance.
3. Dear Yvette
4. I Can Give You More
5. Dangerous
6. Spoken Word/A Cappella Track (LL Cool J/Radio)
7. Rock The Bells
8. I Need A Beat
9. That's A Lie
10. You'll Rock
11. I Want You


This is actually starting to get really painful. I'd just like to point out that I’ve got lots of great music in my collection. I own albums that I feel the need to listen to once a week simply out of a sense of duty to the talented people who created them. I own songs that make me feel like the world is a better place and whole CD’s by people who I don’t feel worthy to share a planet with. So why am I spending my time listening to LL Cool J? After the folking awful effort that was number 479 (I’m still trying to get some of those songs out of my head) I wanted to hear something that reaffirmed my faith in music…instead I’m listening to what is possibly the low point of the count down so far: Radio by LL Cool J.

Notorious BIG and Public enemy did open my eyes a bit to what rap fans see in their favourite genre. It didn’t lure me away from good old rock and roll but it at least I could appreciate what there was to like if you liked that sort of stuff. But Radio just left me cold and annoyed. It’s just a guy talking and a machine playing. That’s all it is. Set up your drum machine and then rhyme over the top of it.

This sort of rap is so easy it was corrupted in the eighties and nineties by middle aged people trying to reach out to the youth. Anyone with a message to push to young people knew that all they needed was a keyboard with programmed beats and they could create raps to “speak to the kids”. There was loads of this stuff around a few years back:

“Yo yo yo I’m B-Boy, I’m the rhyming bear,

And I’m here to tell you why a level crossing is there”

Or...

We’re redhead and sparky, your main home boys,

And the message we’re rapping is: “Matches aint toys!”

Or...

“I’m the carpet king, your local carpet seller,

And if you want carpets, I’m your fella.”

Or even...

“Were Edam and Eve, God’s rhyming cheeses,

And we’re here to tell you bout our homeboy Jesus.”

Raps were even created by politicians, TV weathermen, soap stars and others equally devoid of street cred who realised that rapping required no actual talent. The difference between these hip hop wannabes and Cool J is that the try-hards at least know their rhymes have no musical merit. Radio is basically a concept album with the theme being how great LL thinks he is. Whole songs are dedicated to the fact that he’s the greatest person ever allowed near a microphone. “My literature is above Shakespeare” he says at one point which is a pretty hefty claim not really backed up by lines like: “You lied and a body builder kicked your butt/ If you were in Egypt you’d lie to King Tutt”. Not only is that not up to Shakespeare’s standard it’s slightly worse than an English teachers attempts to put the bards work into rap form in order to interest the kids:

“My name is Hamlet you can call me Ham,

The prince of Denmark is what I am.

I’m confused, I’m angry I might not be sane,

I’m a cheesed-off, mother-cussing, mixed up Dane.

The most mind boggling part of Radio is that there are points when LL Cool J stops rhyming and all we hear is the drum machine beating. There were moments in this release when no human being was involved, everyone sat around twiddling their thumbs while tape ran and the box in the corner made electronic “boom” and “tish” sounds. One machine recorded another while people sat idly by. Why would I want to listen to that?

Rhyming couplets and a drum machine are no substitute for talent. How on earth did this rate above Maggot Brain?

Highlight: None. Nothing at all. Oh okay, the “can’t-dance” rant in the second track is kind of clever.

Lowlight: This line “Japan’s whole military couldn’t disarm me.” What military? Japan has no military.

Influenced by: Actual rappers.

Influenced: Non-rappers into believing it was easy.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote:I, COMMAND YOU, TO RUN OUT AND GET THIS REAL DEFINITON OF HIP-HOP!

-Better do what he says. He’s typing in Capitals.

So what do you think? Is LL Cool J as bad as I think he is or as good as he thinks he is? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure about LL Cool J, but I'd be interested in hearing more of your own rhyming genius. This entry made me laugh - a lot.

    ReplyDelete