Album: LL Cool J

Todd Smith, DEF JAM
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There's something a touch too manufactured about LL Cool J's 12th album, from the way the title promotes his leisurewear label (and, one suspects, prepares the ground for a return to a more film-friendly name, in the same way that Ludacris became Chris Bridges for Crash) to the plethora of guest vocalists littered about the album. Sometimes, that's the only thing of note about a track, as suggested by the title "It's LL and Santana" (sadly, not Carlos but Juelz). Certainly, the duet with Jennifer Lopez on "Control Myself" never hints that there might be some motive beyond the purely promotional for their alliance; and even when the guest has talent to recommend them, the shortfall in artistry is usually palpable: Mary J Blige's part on "Favorite Flavor", for instance, could probably have been e-mailed in, so impersonal is the result. And you just know that the hook-up with Jamie Foxx on "Best Dress" presages some future celluloid partnership. Virtually the sole point of interest about the album is the way the rapper takes hip-hop to an even more gynaecological level than usual with the line "so nervous that her cervix is dilating". What an achievement.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Best Dress', 'Preserve the Sexy'