I think I’m gonna need backup…
So after my club experience a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about the hip-hop I grew up on… in the good ol’ days ;) LL Cool J’s Bigger and Deffer is one of the first rap ‘cassette tapes’ I ever bought. This album came out in 1987, so I was just a baby — in 4th or 5th grade. I remember that I used to play it really low so my parents wouldn’t hear all the cuss words. I still know every word to, I think, every song on that album… Now that I look back I sooooo shouldn’t have been listening to this album at that age, but whatevs ;) I learned a lot by listening to that record. Here are some of my favorite tracks from B.A.D. Pls. pardon me if I get any of these lyrics wrong. I’m doing this off the dome w/o the help of Google.
The Bristol Hotel — I knew a fat girl / She wore an orange skirt / You give her 20 dollars and you could do work / She takes food stamps and travelers checks because her hair and her face and her life’s a wreck… (I think this is how I learned about prostitution).
I Need Love — When I’m alone in my room / Sometimes I stare at the wall / And in the back of my mind / I hear my conscience call / Telling me I need a girl / Who’s as sweet as a dove / For the first time in my life / I see I need love (The king of all sappy hip-hop love songs; this is when I first fell in love with one, Mr. James Todd Smith)
Kanday — I met this new girl / With big juicy lips / And nice round hips / I mean her body’s a trip… (This is how I learned what it takes to keep a man … and that I wasn’t willing to put in that much work ;)
But my favorite song (and I’m sure it was yours too ;) off this album was “I’m Bad.” You can say that the lyrics to the above tracks were cheesy or raunchy, but the lyrics to I’m Bad were just H.A.R.D… In 1987, son???? Hard.
I was listening to this track on repeat for like half an hour this morning and wow… Dude’s brag is sooo huge, but you kinda have to love a guy who loves himself that much. I used to write hip-hop album reviews for allhiphop.com. Dig around the site archives and you’ll find a few with my name on ’em… I wish I could have reviewed Bigger and Deffer when it first came out. These would have been some of the lines I pulled from “I’m Bad”:
Got concrete rhymes / Been rapping for ten years / And even when I’m bragging I’m being sincere
Not bitter or mad just provin’ I’m bad / You want a hit give me a hour plus a pen and a pad
My vocals exact / Like rack and pinion in a Jag
I eliminate punks / Cut ’em up in chunks / You were souped you heard me / And your ego shrunk / I’m devastating / I’m so good it’s a shame / Cause I eat rappers like a cannibal / They call me insane
I was just remarking to a buddy that no matter how many smooth commercial R&B/Hip-Hop tracks LL puts on a CD, he always has at least one banger that reminds us of the good old days. Plus his beef tracks about Ice-T’s perm, Kool Moe Dee’s Star Trek shades, and Canibus … threw a wrench or in a couple cases put an actual end to other rappers’ careers.
However I would be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the less-than-stellar lyrics in this track, such as:
I’m the pinnacle / That means I reign supreme / And I’m notorious I’ll crush you like a jelly bean (Word? Is that what notorious means to you, James?)
I’m the best / Takin’ out all rookies / So forget Oreos / Eat Cool J coookies (Yeah… 20-plus years later, you gotta be regretting that one)
Awful as those two excerpts may be, I’m still of the opinion that the pros of this track far outweigh the cons. And in the scope of 80’s rap, this is and will always be a masterpiece. I have realized recently that when he’s not spitting on a record, I can’t really stand to listen to him. (Dude, have you ever watched an LL interview?) But I can excuse that… cause dude is so nice to look at. I mean damn it if he doesn’t look better than he did when he was 19 …
LL Cool J. An Apollo Legend.
3 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Hip-Hop Classic: LL Cool J — “I’m Bad””
Thanks for the blog! It took me back to when my walls were covered with posters from “Word Up” magazine (only LL’s) and I came home from school and watched Video Music Box for his video’s…yup, I was his number 1 Fan!!! I joined the fan club and got video tapes in the mail and an autographed picture. I never went on to be Mrs. Jamie L. Smith, but I had fun dreaming…good memories.
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LL Cool J is sexy as hell! I hope he stays this fine!He got a sexy ass pack too!