New Jack Swing Hall Of Fame:
LL Cool J
No other rap artist seemed to embrace the spirit of the New Jack Era as willingly as LL Cool J did; his 1990 hit “Around The Way Girl” is probably the best example of R&B’s influence on Hip-Hop during that time period. When LL debuted in 1986, his style could be described as brash, pompous, and hard. Although his 1989 Walking With A Panther album had been panned by critics (and especially urban audiences) for its Pop-oriented direction, but after teaming with New Jack Era producer Marley Marl, LL staged an unprecedented comeback with 1990’s Mama Said Knock You Out.
In sound, the album is a perfect blend of Hip-Hop music tempered with a refreshingly “urban” conscience. Other notable tracks on this album included “The Boomin’ System,” “Jingling Baby (remix)” “6 Minutes Of Pleasure,” “Milky Cereal,” the title track, and “Eat ‘Em Up L Chill.” In particular, the single remixes of “6 Minutes” and “Eat Em Up” were extremely danceable, and received a lot of play at nightclubs and radio mixshows during their heyday. LL even danced in videos for “Around The Way Girl,” “Jingling Baby,” and “Strictly Business” – something that suburban male Hip-Hop fans probably weren’t particularly fond of, preferring the gangsta posturing of acts like NWA and so on.
By the end of 1992, LL Cool J had performed on many award shows (winning his first of two Grammys) and starred in two major motion pictures: The Hard Way and Toys. 1993 would see the release of LL’s 14 Shots To The Dome, but that album would be considered a critical disappointment compared to the album that followed, 1995’s Mr. Smith. After celebrating 10 years of his music with 1996’s All World, LL returned with 1997’s Phenomenon, and then again in 2000 with The G.O.A.T. (The Greatest Of All Time). LL released four more albums after G.O.A.T; in 2002 he released 10, which featured the hit "Paradise," in 2004 he released DEFinition, featuring the Timbaland banger "Headsprung," in 2006 came Todd Smith, followed by 2008's Exit 13, his final album with Def Jam by contract.
LL Cool J is the longest lasting successful rap artist of all time, and is currently building his credentials as a movie star, with roles in movies such as In Too Deep (1999), Any Given Sunday (1999), Rollerball (2002), and S.W.A.T. (2003).