Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"I Need Love" by LL Cool J

Song#:  3216
Date:  08/01/1987
Debut:  52
Peak:  14
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  Although LL Cool J's debut album Radio made an impression, it was his second album, Bigger and Deffer that made him a star. The set got kicked off with the ferocious "I'm Bad" (#4 R&B/#84 Pop), but it was this second single that pushed him further into the mainstream. The low-key rap ballad caught on quickly and became LL's first #1 at R&B. It then got attention at Pop where it debuted fairly high on the chart and then made a run towards the Top 10. It would stop shy of that mark, but the track helped push the album to #3 Pop/#1 R&B. It would eventually be a double-platinum seller.

ReduxReview:  While LL Cool J wasn't the first hip hop artist to create a rap ballad, he was the first to have one break big on the charts. In doing so, he basically showed that rap could be more than big bravado tracks, party anthems, or social commentaries. Rap could also be contemplative and even romantic. The song would serve as a blueprint for many more rap ballads to come. It was a terrific song and was a bit unexpected from LL who had established himself with hard-edged tracks. He was talented enough that I think he would have been a superstar anyway, but this is the track that truly turned heads his way and started him on that road.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song would be sampled many times over the years including being used in Rick Ross' 2010 #1 Rap/#2 R&B/#30 Pop hit "Aston Martin Music." However, there was one artist who decided to fully cover the song, which itself is something not commonly done with rap tracks. Irish folk singer/songwriter Luka Bloom did a version of the tune for his 1992 album The Acoustic Motorbike. Bloom recited the lyrics in his Irish accent and framed the rap with acoustic guitar and some light percussion including an Irish drum called a bodhran. The track garnered Bloom praise from some critics and it definitely drew attention. It was released as a single, but it did not chart. Incidentally, Bloom named himself after a song that cracked the Pop Top 10 the same week LL's single debuted, "Luka" by Suzanne Vega. Born Kevin Barry Moore, he decided to take on a stage name after moving to the US in 1987. He chose "Luka" from Vega's song and "Bloom" from the lead character in Ulysses, the classic 1922 novel by James Joyce.


No comments:

Post a Comment