Classic Music: Antlife's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums of All-Time #4 (LL Cool J "Mama Said Knock You Out") (1990)

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We’re going way back for #4. And this one was definitely chosen due to impact too, not just dope music. Sometimes greatness is forgotten, especially when so much time has gone by. But I could never forget how important LL was to Hip Hop, mainly with this album. Mama Said Knock You Out was being hailed as the album that saved LL’s career, and maybe it did, I don’t know. What I do know, is this is easily his best and most complete album. I actually got this on cassette for Christmas back when it dropped, so it’s fitting that this post lands just a couple weeks out from the holiday. 

Entirely produced by Marley Marl, I think this album really showed you all the sides of who LL was. When I was a kid, he was the rapper you wanted to be like. He had the music, the girls, and just the style that we all looked up to so much bak then. MSKYO showcased a lot of what made him a legend. You had tracks where he was being comedic (“Milky Cereal”, “Cheesy Rat Blues”). Lyrical songs (“Eat ‘em Up L Chill”, “Murdergram” “Boomin’ System”), party records (“Jingling Baby”, “Around The Way Girl”), songs for the ladies (“Mr. Goodbar”, “6 Minutes of Pleasure”), battle joints (“To da Break of Dawn’), even a track on police brutality (“Illegal Search”). This was a classic the minute it hit stores.

It’s wild to go back and notice how complete albums used to be. I don’t want to go all purist, but it’s just so rare to find an album today, that will have quality content from front to back. This album showed that you can have a variety of material on an album and still have such a cohesive project. And the production was so incredible on this, as well. I’ve always said that this was LL’s best work, but also Marley Marl’s too. And he’s got a ton of classic beats out there, so that shows you how dope this album was, and still is. I listen to this joint all the time, and never really stopped, since that Christmas that I first got it. If you don’t own this, you should really change that soon.



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