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LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

  • Written by  Rob Crozier

This album, along with a host of other classic hip-hop albums, is getting a reissue as part of the Back To Black series pressed on 180g heavyweight vinyl. 

The recent vinyl boom has in many quarters been attributed to indie labels keeping the vinyl market afloat. However, any self-respecting 40-year-old male will tell you that it was hip-hop and dance culture where vinyl never died. Now that vinyl has been cleverly remarketed to engage younger audiences who never had that tactile vinyl relationship, it’s great to have these classic albums available. The cynical 40-year-old males who bought them some 25 years ago no longer have to race back up to the loft to dig out their own warped copies.

Although they may still see the vinyl resurgence as an attempt by the youth to gain some form of cool passport to show their musical depth. It does re-educate us all that an album on vinyl is very must a game of two halves. It reminds us all that the concept of an album with two distinct sides ensures that the physical act of turning an album over can result in a strong track midway through an album. A similar type of reaction can be laid at the feet of LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out, his fourth studio album.

“Don’t call it a comeback/I’ve been here for years” – the opening words to the title track of this album and the first track on Side B of the record booms out. However, following his disappointing previous album, this is an obvious comeback despite what he says. In the same sense that vinyl is back with a boom, so was LL Cool J. Despite being only 22 at the time, this album was released when he was fighting a backlash of tags which were labelling him as a “sell out” or that he had “gone soft” making music for lovers.

Being one of the first solo hip-hop stars at such a young age obviously had its distractions and tracks such as ‘Mr. Good Bar’ and ‘Around The Way Girl’ illustrate the corny rapper/lover incarnation that brought such howls from the hip-hop purists. However such was LL Cool J’s talent that he counterbalanced this with the track ‘Cheesy Rat Blues’, which openly attacks the kind of cheesy rappers that are in it just for the ladies.

It’s easy to forget that in 1990 hip-hop was still very much in its infancy, yet despite this, this album contains some stand out tunes. LL Cool J is still considered one of the best rappers around. His considerable talents are evident not only on the title track but on tracks such as ‘Jingling Baby’ and ‘Murdergram’ to name just two. Although most of the album can sound dated to some ears, the wonder of the vinyl resurgence allows us all to slip on the slippers of nostalgia and slide back in time to a world of gold chains, sweet honeys and bad-ass players. 

If that’s your thang, grab a piece of vinyl and start chillin’ like it’s 1990.

Mama Said Knock You Out is available from Amazon and iTunes.

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