Honestly, I don't care about what LL put out as a 35-40 year old rich and HAPPY man. Late career....mostly, he made that smooth, playa, laid back, non threatening loverman shit......that's what he's supposed to do! He ain't broke and mad and jerking off into napkins nightly like these cruddy loser angry assholes that a lot of these internet nerds big up. He's old, rich, and happy and content. So it is what it is. I don't bump much of it(though I'll ride for songs like Hush and Love U Better all day), but I don't hate on it either.
But LL from 1985-1995 is another story. Hell, I'll even give him to 2000 because The GOAT album had some cuts(Ill Bomb, Homicide, Back Where I Belong), and because half these jokers voting on the thread use "GOAT" and don't even know that LL gave them that shit.
But 1985-1995 LL? And a 10 year career where you're hitting back then is like doing it for 25 years now. Mama Said Knock You Out is one of the best rap albums ever. Radio and Bigger and Deffer are classics, and Mr. Smith was a damn good album. And Walking With a Panther? That's like Jay-Z's Volume 1.....where if you take off the 2 or 3 bullshit cuts, the rest of the album was incredible.
Don't give him too much flack for I Need Love, rappers now make entire albums in that vein and get props for it. It was just one song. Wasn't nothing wrong with the sentiment either. Ignore the soft ass voice he used, and the lyrics/content was fine.
Regardless of what you think of his catalogue or low moments.....listen to his verse on this joint below from 1:40-2:33 and tell me most of these cats being named can rap better than that.
Great post. I hadn't heard that EPMD jam in years. Don't get me wrong, I like LL, but I think the Jay Z comparison is apt in that each album has at least one or two tracks that are skip worthy, a bunch of good/decent and a couple of amazingly good ones. Radio through to 14 Shots were definitely his best work, young, hungry and aggressive.
Personally, I just found that I'd lean towards better wit and a little less braggadocio. Beasties, Run DMC, Eric. B and Rakim, EPMD, Slick Rick, Ice T and others all got a lot more airplay on my machine than any of the LL Cool J albums (though I owned them all and did indeed listen to them).