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by Andreas Hale
3 May, 2006@12:00 am
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     About a decade ago, a young Todd Smith spoke candidly to “Yo! MTV Raps” about his disgust with “pop rap.” Fast forward to 2006 and LL Cool J embodies the very “pop rap” that he so viciously dismissed on television. Apparently muscles and girly hooks are far superior to needing a beat, a radio or even being advised by your mother to knock somebody out. LL Cool J’s emcee skills have been rapidly vaporizing away, while his body has buffed up (obviously the equivalent of a “rapping steroid” if you will). His albums have only stayed afloat via sex appeal and a catchy hook or two. But credit should be given where credit is due, LL is still in the game (no matter how schmaltzy he has become) and with a video used as a marketing tool for his clothing line, it just makes sense in this age of image over talent. With this comes probably his lowest of low albums…album #12…Todd Smith.
 
     “Two decades and ain’t a damn thing changed” LL says on the uber cheesy “Favorite Flavor” with the assistance of Mary J Blige. Obviously LL is delusional with this statement as the completely overdone “All Night Long” sample is driven into the mud. There are a few things that scare the hell out of you with this album. The fact that every track except for one has a guest and 9 of the 13 are of the R&B variety should concern even the most diehard LL fan. If that doesn’t crap on your spirits then maybe songs like “Preserve the Sexy” and “Down the Isle” will cause you to blow chunks all over your stereo. I know, usually LL comes correct at least one time to remind us of why he was dope in the first place. Nope kids, not this time. His bullshit attempts at “street anthems” fall on deaf ears as “It’s LL and Santana” (corny ass title) featuring Juelz Santana  and “What You Want” featuring Freeway are flat out feeble in approach. LL’s stalker anthem “I’ve Changed” is downright atrocious and by the time you reach the end you wonder “What the fuck is wrong with LL!?!?”
 
     The production gets no better. With the Trackmasters holding down the bulk of the production, this album feels like every crappy radio song you’ve heard…only 5 years too late. Even the Neptunes and Scott Storch gifts should have been given back because they both must have came from the same $.99 bin. Overused samples, syrupy hooks and the all inclusive cheese element completely ruin this album.
 
    Sorry folks…There’s just nothing good to say about this album. The fact that “two actors that are trying to rap” is the feeling I got from “Control Myself” should have been enough to say that his run is really over didn’t really hit home until this album ended. Unless you plan on using his pictures to motivate your weightlifting, leave that shit on the shelf. Don’t waste a blank CD on this one.

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