Good production, little innovation equate to mediocre album

There are a few things that you can count on from an LL Cool J release. He will talk about his possessions, he will refer to one of his prior hits and he will always address the ladies. His latest work “10” is no exception.

Far from the days of such classics as “I’m Bad,” “I can’t Live Without my Radio” and “I’m Gonna Knock You Out.” LL has become as much of a niche artist as the world of rap music has seen so far. But this may be his plan.

“Daddy just made a nine digit deposit/ Believe me sweetie it’s not luck its logic/ I’m the master of my destiny”, from the song “Amazin'” and “I’m out for the mullah” from the track “Throw ya L’s up” give clues to understanding LL’s motivation.

With songs like “U Should” LL implies that every guy should know that if he’s not careful, Cool J will take his lady. The problem is, we’ve already heard this before (“Who do U Luv”). It’s understandable to keep using a formula that works, but isn’t one of the pillars of rap music and hip-hop as a culture to be creative and take risks?

Although it is obvious that “10” benefits from the music industries assembly line of good production, image and a catchy hook, this album will have it’s listeners thinking their CD player is stuck on repeat. The album also boasts P. Diddy as a guest on it.

The fact is any release featuring the “inventor of the remix” will lack in the department of originality.

However, LL’s album does benefit from really good production. Almost every track has a popular R&B singer’s or big name producer’s name stamped next to it. But you would expect nothing less from something attached to an industry giant like Def Jam. The fact remains that “10” is not an innovative work and its creator has slipped into his own cliché. Without the change of pace and trailblazing content a good rap album needs, this album is doomed to be mediocre.

Garrison L. Vereen II can be reached at