Picks and Pans Review: Mama Said Knock You Out

updated 10/01/1990 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/01/1990 01:00AM

L.L. Cool J

Back when rap was a relatively uncluttered field, a lot of people used to make fun of early breakout stars such as L.L. for their aggressive warnings to others not to even try to match their rhymes. Now it turns out that all that chest thumping was rather prescient.

Rap has become the most capricious, competitive and fast-evolving genre in pop music. You either change with the times or you become old hat (what happened to Run-D.M.C. anyway?).

L.L. Cool J, who had been slow to adapt his purely percussive approach to the lighter, more melodic style that has developed, was in danger of being left behind. But with Mama Said Knock You Out, he catches the new wave.

The mood is noticeably looser, reminiscent of rap youngbloods De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. L.L. will keep your head spinning with the clever couplets of "Cheesey Rat Blues" and the cartoon chant of the title track. His musical accompaniment is also more creative than ever. This record even seems to presage a new feeling of peaceful coexistence for L.L. "Yeah," he coos on one cut, "I like Bobby Brown."

One song, "Eat'm Up L Chill," makes it abundantly clear that L.L. should never consider actually singing. But he's still one of our best rappers—and determined not to be left in the dust by the rap stampede. (Def Jam/Columbia)

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