Doesn’t exactly look like the face of a 40 year old man does it? If he’s not careful, he could find himself and one of his daughter’s classmates in an American Beauty moment.
But let’s get straight to the nitty gritty and what really matters. This isn’t about Todd Smith’s pectorals, his movie guap or even his BOTOXÂ® secrets. As a pioneer in this thing we call Hip-Hop, LL’s catalog is rivaled only by his ability to blend in with the transcending generations while his direct peers struggle to keep up with the latest slang. But with every decade LL survives, the next one offers even more formidable obstacles.
It’s not a matter of “if” LL can still spit. He’s proven himself worthy so many times, he’s exempt from the compulsory tests veteran rappers have to endure to gain a long-lost fan that abandoned ship. The question at hand is “how.” How strong will he return? How good will the songs be? How will he appear relevant without looking…well…corny? It’s no secret that he’s still contractually bound to Def Jam so Exit 13 is coming whether we like it or not. But will it be an admirable effort or is he just going through the motions?
One malefactor that works against the former statement is that LL’s formula for record-making has become all too predictable. Although he remains one of the few MCs that was able to see success on the street as well as the ladies’ playlists, his blueprint does show noticeable signs of wear and tear. Whether its aligning himself with the R&B sensation of the day (Boyz II Men on “Hey Lover,” Amerie on “Paradise” or most recently The-Dream on “Baby”) or resulting to extremes to justify his thug ( the “I Shot Ya Remix,” “Freeze Remix” or even 14 Shots To The Dome), it may be time to admit we’ve seen all the sides LL has to offer. Of course his longevity is not taken for granted; imagine the difficulty for a Hip-Hop artist to stay fresh after 13 albums. But if you’re the self-proclaimed “G.O.A.T.,” shouldn’t you be aiming for the rafters instead of looking to bunt when it’s convenient for you to do so?
We’ll know this August if Cool James still has love for “H.E.R.” or if he’ll just be smoking on 2.5 Cigs, doing his best Larry Holmes rendition. But as his Exit… approaches, he’s dropped some precursors to let us know where he’ll be coming from.