LL Cool J is indeed a marathon man. Almost 20 years ago he dropped "Radio", and ever since then, he has continued to drop platinum selling albums. Countless artists have come and gone over the past 20 years, and LL has seemed to out live them all. On his 11th album 'DEFinition', LL has labeled himself as being "more confident than any other that he has released..." After a thorough listen, I can't help but wonder if LL and I listened to the same material. While this album has a couple of catchy jams courtesy of Timbaland, the overall feel leaves much to be desired and is further evidence that LL's finest days are far behind him.
The album's lead single "Headsprung" is an infectious track that features some of Timbaland's finest production in years. However, lyrically this track is just plain laughable, and does nothing to cement LL's claim as the G.O.A.T. The Timbaland/LL union continues to work up an insane chemistry on "Apple Cobbler". The way Timbaland works this beat with his trademark sounds is nothing short of amazing. LL is attempting to personify apple cobbler on this track, and if nothing else proves why Ladies Love him. The album's finest moment comes on "Hush" - a vintage LL cut as he spits over the topic that he does best. The throwback hook, complimented by the mellow, yet contagious production makes for a standout gem. "One In The Morning" is another throwback joint in which LL delivers that cocky, braggadocios flow and lyrical prowess that we've grown to love, "Cats know I'm real/ I keep them on their heels/ Damn, look at my body, could've been a navy seals/ But you lack the discipline to do what I do/ Reinvention, I'm in the 11th dimension."
LL's discography has filler. So without a doubt, "DEFinition" is not exempt from the same setbacks. With a track listing at a very slim 11 tracks (to coincide with this being his 11th album), it leaves little room for error. However, "About To Get Her" which features R. Kelly sounds like 'Fiesta' Part II, as it is a terrible rehashing of an R. Kelly hit. While one would be hard pressed to say that Timbaland's production is bad on this album, you can almost be certain that no one will compare anything on this album to his classic production of the past. "Feel The Beat" is Timbaland stripped down, coming across as average, and is saved only by LL's delivery. Tracks like "Rub My Back" lack the creativity, and serve up a rather monotonous hook. "Shake It Baby" features some rather soulful background vocals, however they do not compliment the track's production.
All in all, one will not deny what LL means to hip hop. His longevity is a modern day marvel. Even though we will probably never see an album as good as circa 1985-1990, that takes nothing away from LL's ability to still be able to push out great music when he wants to, as is evidenced at moments on DEFinition. Timbaland's production had some strong moments, but as a whole didn't impress. While lyrically LL has seemed to have lost a step, he stills has a flawless delivery and mic control that is able to hold the majority of the tracks on DEFiniton together. Its hard to imagine how much longer LL will be able to last in the game if he continues to push out albums like DEFinition, but after 20 years... It's even harder to imagine the game without him.