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Bigger & Deffer

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Album Review

LL Cool J rocketed to the top of the hip-hop world in 1985 with Radio, his astonishing debut, but he lost his footing a bit with Bigger and Deffer, his mildly disappointing follow-up that proved to be a commercial breakthrough all the same. It's a powerful album that gets underway with a bang, as LL raps, "No rapper can rap quite like I can," and makes his case throughout the album-opening "I'm Bad," a ferocious hardcore rap with a great DJ-scratched hook. While that song ranks among LL's best (and most popular) ever, Bigger and Deffer doesn't boast too many other standout moments, with the exception of "I Need Love." Its balladic tenderness comes as a late-album surprise, considering how ferocious LL sounds elsewhere here. Nonetheless, like it or loathe it, the song set the template for a number of such lovers raps that would bring LL much crossover success in the years to come. "I Need Love" aside, Bigger and Deffer is consistently solid, produced entirely by the L.A. Posse (Darryl Pierce, Dwayne Simon, and Bobby Erving) and filled with the sort of hard-hitting hip-hop that was Def Jam's staple at the time. But while the album is mostly solid, it does lack the creative spark that had made Radio such an invigorating release only a couple years prior (the absence of Rick Rubin here is unfortunate). In those couple years since LL had put out Radio, rap music had taken big strides. Now, in 1987, LL had to contend with the likes of Eric B. & Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, Public Enemy, and Boogie Down Productions, with others like EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T, and N.W.A on the horizon. When put in such a context, Bigger and Deffer pales a bit; in the years since LL's Radio rocked the streets of New York, rap had taken leaps and bounds while LL hadn't. So it was no surprise when LL suddenly came under attack by his rivals and a few fans, sending him back to the drawing board for his next effort, the whopping 18-track Walking with a Panther (1989).


Born: 14 January 1968 in Bay Shore, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Hip-hop is notorious for short-lived careers, but LL Cool J is the inevitable exception that proves the rule. Releasing his first hit, "I Can't Live Without My Radio," in 1985 when he was just 17 years old, LL initially was a hard-hitting, streetwise b-boy with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. He quickly developed an alternate style, a romantic -- and occasionally sappy -- lover's rap epitomized by his mainstream breakthrough single, "I Need Love." LL's first two albums, Radio and Bigger and Deffer,...
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Bigger & Deffer, LL Cool J
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