Wednesday, July 8, 2020

"I'm Bad" by LL Cool J

Song#:  3188
Date:  07/11/1987
Debut:  89
Peak:  84
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Hailing from Queens, New York, James Todd Smith started rapping around the age of nine. His skills grew over the years and with the support and help of his mom and grandparents he had enough equipment and knowledge to start writing and producing his own demos. Still just sixteen years old, Smith began sending out his tapes to various record companies. One of them, the newly formed Def Jam, bit and decided to give the young artist a chance. Label co-founder Rick Rubin would produce a single for Smith titled "I Need a Beat." It was released in 1984 under Smith's new moniker LL Cool J. While the record didn't chart, it did sell a lot of copies and helped to establish the new label. Work then began on a full album. Released in 1985, the Rubin-produced Radio, would be a significant hit that boasted two R&B Top 20 hits. The LP would get to #6 R&B/#46 Pop and would go gold a few months after its release (eventually it would be a platinum seller). LL Cool J was now a star and there was definite anticipation for his next album. Bigger and Deffer would be an even bigger success and this first single kicked things off. It would be LL Cool J's first R&B Top 10 (#4) and first to cross over to the Pop chart where it spent a short month. It also got to #23 at Dance. The hit helped sell albums, but it would be his next single that would push the record and LL Cool J's career to new heights.

ReduxReview:  The opening of this track was pretty great with the sample (see below) and police radio voice. It led to a jammin' rap section that was driven mainly by a bass line and bangin' drum sound. LL Cool J then put his ego out there for everyone to view. The first line said it all, "No rapper can rap quite like I can." The track was full of bravado with no apologies and that's the way it should have been. He knew it, felt it, and had to let everyone know. His performance was confident and I totally believed him. While it may not have been as mainstream as tracks by Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, it was a solid introduction to J's world for those who hadn't yet discovered him.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Smith's moniker, LL Cool J, came about when he was sixteen. Smith had initially thought about J-Ski, but then realized that there were several other rappers that included"ski" in their names and that some of those artists were involved with the cocaine world. Not wanting that association, he then thought that "cool" was a word that would always be around, so he added his first name and came up with Cool James, but then reduced it to just Cool J. He then asked his friend and fellow rapper Playboy Mikey D what he though about the new name. Mikey D thought it was a good start, but that it needed something else. He suggested Ladies Love Cool J. Smith liked that, but it was a bit long so he chose to go by the simpler LL Cool J.  2) This track contains a sample from the 1976 #1 instrumental hit "Theme from S.W.A.T." by Rhythm Heritage. The tune was written by Barry DeVorzon and performed by his studio orchestra for the opening of the ABC-TV crime drama show S.W.A.T. starring Steve Forrest. The show would debut in 1975, but would only last two seasons. The theme song, however, became popular and a studio group formed by producer Steve Barri and producer/keyboardist Michael Omartian decided to put a disco spin on the theme. Released as by Rhythm Heritage, the instrumental became a gold-selling #1. They followed it up with another TV show song, the #20 "Barretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow)." The studio group would release four albums between '76 and '79. When disco died, so did Rhythm Heritage.

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