LL Cool J—that guy from NCIS: Los Angeles and Brad Paisley's accidentally racist song, "Accidental Racist"—decided he wants to be a rapper again. He released his new album Authentic on Tuesday and it's exactly as terrible as you thought it would be. Please, don't call it a comeback.
Authentic's got all of the doo-doo rhymes and vague, sensual whispering you'd expect on a modern LL Cool J album. Plus, it features appearances from Seal and Monica, so it's basically like the Space Jam Soundtrack Part II, except this time the Monstars stole everyone's powers.
Because I've got a weird job that sometimes entails me torturing myself with albums that make Willenium sound like Illmatic, I went ahead and listened to LL's latest abomination so that you wouldn't have to. Here's everything that you aren't missing by skipping Authentic.
1. Bath Salt
The name of this song is a metaphor because LL Cool J's rap career is trying to come back from the dead and feed on our brains. Someone tell Daryl Dixon to save us all. You can't even get to the first verse without him lyric-checking Salt 'n' Pepa and talking about his genitals. In "Bath Salt," LL raps, "Ear drums dealing with harrassment." This is a valid interpretation of what it's like to listen to "Bath Salt."
2. Not Leaving You Tonight (ft. Fitz and the Tantrums w/ Eddie Van Halen)
Things you'll find in "Not Leaving You Tonight":
- Poker metaphors
- Proper use of the phrase "turnt up"
- Football metaphors (Fourth and a hundred, but love's a first down. A quarterback, ya comeback, right now. When a Hail Mary works the world is like, "wow.")
- Boxing metaphors
- LL Cool J name-checking Fitz & the Tantrums for the oddest shoutout in the history of music
- Eddie Van Halen shredding a solo
3. New Love (ft. Charlie Wilson)
This jam starts out, "Honk your horns if she's walking by right now," because, hooray misogyny! After the intro, though, it's one of the more capable tracks on Authentic. He manages to integrate modern lyrics about Instagram and texting without forcing it. It's one of the few tracks on which LL's cadence doesn't feel robotic. If the whole album was closer to "New Love," it might deserve half a star or so.
4. We Came to Party (ft. Snoop Dogg and Fatman Scoop)
You know Fatman Scoop as the guy who aggressively yells for you to put your hands up while someone else raps. You might also know him as the guy from The Situation's song, "The Situation." You'll be surprised to learn that Fatman Scoop contributes to "We Came to Party" by yelling "We came to party!" I spent a good 45 seconds debating whether or not "We Came to Party" is better than "The Situation." I'll never get those 45 seconds back.
5. Give Me Love (ft. Seal)
Seal does his best Haddaway impression while LL Cool J uses his raps to sully the work of Charles Dickens.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
When the last chapter's done, I hope you're mine."
6. Something About You (ft. Earth, Wind and Fire, Charlie Wilson, and Melody Thornton)
Ugh. Even Earth, Wind and Fire can't save this album. How many songs are left?
7. Bartender Please (ft. Snoop Dogg, Bootsy Collins, and Travis Barker)
This track serves as a poignant commentary on the polarization in modern American politics and says more about the need for bipartisan leadership, personal responsibility, and calculated patriotism than any lofty, liberal Aaron Sorkin script. The lyrics are actually reminiscent of Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address. "And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," Kennedy said. Similarly, LL Cool J's "Bartender Please" appeals to the best in all of us, and urges that we put that best on display more regularly to create a better United States of America.
Just kidding. It sucks.
8. Whaddup (ft. Chuck D, Travis Barker, Tom Morello, and Z-Trip)
In 2013, times is tough for actor/musician/Grammy host LL Cool J, so he's going to break into your home and threaten you with a firearm.
"I can't take it no more, my nerves are raw, this economy's out of control.
Kick down your door, put the weapon to your jaw, this time heads gon' roll."
9. Between the Sheetz (ft. Mickey Shiloh)
Immediately, you know this is gonna be your JAM because they spell "sheets" with a "z." That kind of thing is all the rage right now. Does he proceed to rap about having his tongue on a woman's feet? You betcha. Actually, this is the kind of track you expect from an aging rapper/R&B singer who is just out of touch enough to put a "z" in the song title and fill an album with ill-advised pop-rock-rap mashups. This is remarkably better than the rest of the album, though it still registers a zero on a binary scale.
10. Closer (ft. Monica)
"Skinny jeans, a wedgie, and a dance rendition,
Tom Cruise wouldn't choose that mission."
Seriously, those are the lyrics.
11. Live for You (ft. Brad Paisley)
Welp, it's definitely not as racist as their last collaboration. So, +1 for Brad and LL?
12. We're the Greatest (ft. Eddie Van Halen)
Thank God, it's finally over. Though, Van Halen isn't half bad on the final track. Well, he doesn't make LL Cool J any better, but it still hurt less than most of the rest of Authentic.