|Studio album by|
|Released||November 18, 1985|
|Studio||Chung King House of Metal (New York)|
|LL Cool J chronology|
|Singles from Radio|
Radio is the debut album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was released on November 18, 1985, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. It was also Def Jam's first full-length album release.
The album was recorded at Chung King House of Metal in New York City with producer Rick Rubin, who provided a sparse, minimal production style.The album also features a sound punctuated by DJ scratching, often brief samples, and emphasis of the downbeat. LL Cool J's aggressive b-boy lyrics explored themes of inner city culture, teenage promiscuity, and braggadocio raps.
A significant sales success for a hip hop record at the time, Radio became a Billboard chart hit and sold over 500,000 copies within its first five months of release. By 1989, it had been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales surpassing one million copies in the United States. Initial reception of the album was generally positive, with praise given to LL Cool J's lyricism and Rubin's production. It has since been recognized by critics as LL Cool J's best album.
Radio belonged to a pivotal moment in hip hop's culture and history, reflecting the new school and ghettoblaster subculture in the United States during the mid-1980s. The album's success contributed to the displacement of the old school with the new school form and to the genre's mainstream success during this period. It was also a career breakthrough for LL Cool J and Rick Rubin. Radio has been recognized by music journalists as one of the first artistically cohesive and commercially successful hip hop albums.
In March 1984, when NYU student Rick Rubin and promoter-manager Russell Simmons founded the then-independent Def Jam label, 16 year–old St. Albans, Queens native James Todd Smith was creating demo tapes in his grandparents' home. His grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, purchased him $ 2,000 worth of stereo equipment, including two turntables, an audio mixer and an amplifier. Smith later discussed his childhood background and rapping, stating that "By the time I got that equipment, I was already a rapper. In this neighborhood, the kids grow up in rap. It's like speaking Spanish if you grow up in an all-Spanish house. I got into it when I was about 9, and since then all I wanted was to make a record and hear it on the radio." By using the mixing table he had received from his grandfather, Smith produced and mixed his own demos and sent them to various record companies throughout New York City, including Simmons' and Rubin's own Def Jam Recordings.
Under his new stage name, LL Cool J (an acronym for "Ladies Love Cool James"), ... As soon as it was over there were girls screaming and asking for autographs. Right then and there I said 'This is what I want to do'." LL's debut single sold over 100,000 copies and helped establish both Def Jam as a label and Smith as a rapper. The commercial success of "I Need a Beat" – along with the Beastie Boys' "Rock Hard" (1984) – helped Def Jam to a distribution deal with Columbia Records the following year.Smith was signed by Def Jam, which led to the release of his first official record, the 12-inch single "I Need a Beat" (1984). The single was a hard-hitting, streetwise b-boy song with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. Smith later discussed his search for a label, stating "I sent my demo to many different companies, but it was Def Jam where I found my home." That same year, Smith made his professional debut concert performance at Manhattan Center High School. In a later interview, LL Cool J recalled the experience, stating "They pushed the lunch room tables together and me and my DJ, Cut Creator, started playing.
LL dropped out of Andrew Jackson High School in Queens to record his first studio album,also the first LP to be issued by Def Jam. Recording sessions for the album took place at Chung King Studios in Manhattan's Chinatown under Rubin's direction. "There were no expectations," the producer recalled. "Everything was done through trial and error. As long as it sounded good, it didn't matter how technically wrong it might be."
Notable among the personnel was LL's DJ Jay Philpot, better known as "Cut Creator". A Queens native and former trombonist, Philpot met LL at a block party and they began performing together.The audio mastering was handled by engineer Herb Powers at 130 West 42nd Street in the Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs and the album was set for release as Radio in November 1985, containing a dedication in the liner notes to LL's mother and grandparents. The album's release had been anticipated by many rap fans following LL's appearance in the hip hop movie Krush Groove , which was based on the beginnings of the Def Jam label and featured the single "I Can't Live Without My Radio" from Radio.
The album's production, handled entirely by Rick Rubin with a remix by DJ Jazzy Jay, has been noted by critics and music writers for Rubin's minimalist style and stripped-down aggressiveness.Steve Huey of AllMusic described the production for Radio as "bare-bones" and "skeletal", while calling the instrumentation "basically just a cranked-up beatbox." The sound of Radio is mostly punctuated by DJ scratching and features occasional brief samples, which emphasize a downbeat. In summing up the musical style of Radio, Huey stated "The result is rap at its most skeletal, with a hard-hitting, street-level aggression that perfectly matches LL's cocksure teenage energy."
The lyrical themes regarding the culture and the way of life of inner city youth that surface in Radio, including the growing and popular b-boy attitude ("I Can't Live Without My Radio", "Rock the Bells") and teenage promiscuity ("Dear Yvette"), along with LL's "teenage energy", as described by writer Nelson George, helped appeal to a younger music audience and were essential in the album's commercial success.LL Cool J's lyricism on Radio is highlighted by clever disses, playful boasts and braggadocio raps. Columnist Stephen Holden of The New York Times described LL Cool J as "a brawny young giant with the animal magnetism and amiable self-assurance of the young Muhammad Ali." "I Want You" and "I Can Give You More" have been recognized by listeners of hip hop as the first hip-hop ballads, and have been cited likewise by several music writers and critics.
Author of the 1985 book Fresh: Hip Hop Don't Stop, writer Nelson George further elaborated on the appeal of Radio to listeners at the time, describing LL Cool J as a "minimalist homeboy who knows his beats", and stating "You can call it rap, hip hop or street, but it really is a way of hearing music—and partying hard—that expresses the experiences and attitudes of a great many inner city kids. L.L. Cool J is one of the best young talkologists around, because he speaks directly to and about his generation over large beats that recall Run-D.M.C., Trouble Funk, James Brown, and funky little bits of AC/DC and Yes ... This teenage music is built around beats, but not just any old beats. It is all about a beat with style, with personality, and L.L. Cool J has plenty of both."
|Christgau's Record Guide||B+|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||9/10|
|The Village Voice||B+|
Released November 18, 1985, on Def Jam Recordings in the United States,Radio earned a significant amount of commercial success and sales for a hip hop record at the time. It sold over 500,000 copies in its first five months, eventually selling over 1 million copies by 1988, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Radio peaked at number 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at number 46 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It entered the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart on December 28, 1985, and remained there for forty-seven weeks, while also entering the Pop Albums chart on January 11, 1986. Radio remained on the chart for thirty-eight weeks. By 1989, the album had earned platinum status from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), after earning a gold certification in the United States on April 14, 1986, with sales exceeding one million copies.
Radio received positive reviews from both "street and dance music" aficionados and mainstream music critics,including Robert Christgau from The Village Voice , who described it in a January 1986 article as "the most engaging and original rap album of the year". LL Cool J's aggressive rapping and Rick Rubin's stripped-down production were praised by critics who also agreed that LL's lyrics set a new standard for MC's at the time. The songs' lyrics were favored by critics who described LL's songwriting as clever and fun. Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times said that he is an integral artist of hip hop's "second generation" because of his "razor-sharp wit". Rolling Stone magazine's Debby Bull was impressed by his songwriting and how its originality lies in the ballads, even though "it's the sassier, dance-worthy songs that make this record such an irresistible party." The critical success of the album would later result in its comparison to other LL Cool J albums, which were not as critically successful as Radio. In his review for the Trouser Press , Ira Robbins called the album a "primary classic of hip-hop's original commercial surge" and went on to write:
From the monster boombox on the cover to grooves like 'I Can't Live Without My Radio' and 'You Can't Dance', LL touches all the right cultural totems, delivering his sharp-tongued lines with adolescent urgency and a deliciously snotty attitude. The rhythm tracks are stripped-down and aggressive; raps on familiar subjects sidestep clichés and are clever enough to warrant repeated listening.
Since its initial reception, Radio has been viewed by fans and critics as LL Cool J's greatest work, as well as one of hip hop's best albums.In retrospect, some critics and music writers have given more praise to producer Rick Rubin's contributions to Radio, as well as note the importance of his production on the album. Yahoo! Music's Frank Meyer said that the album was "one of the earliest records, along with Run-DMC , to combine the vocal approach of rap with the musical arrangements and riffing of rock 'n' roll. 'I Can't Live Without My Radio' is a hip-hop classic and this album set the standard for East Coast rap for a long time."
Radio was later ranked at number 2 on ego trip magazine's "Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums (1980–98)", number 69 on Rolling Stone's "100 Best LPs of the 80s", and number 71 on Blender's "100 Greatest American Albums of All Time" list.In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 478 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; it was ranked number 470 in a revised list in 2012. The album was also included in Rolling Stone magazine's 1997 issue of "The Essential 200 Rock Records". In 1998, Radio was selected as one of The Source magazine's "100 Best Rap Albums".
With the breakthrough success of his hit single "I Need a Beat" and the Radio LP, LL Cool J became one of the first hip-hop acts to achieve mainstream success along with Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C. Gigs at larger venues were offered to LL as he would join the 1986–'87 Raising Hell tour, opening for Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys.Another milestone of LL's popularity was his appearance on American Bandstand as the first hip hop act on the show.
The album's success also helped in contributing to Rick Rubin's credibility and repertoire as a record producer. Radio, along with Raising Hell (1986) and Licensed to Ill (1986), would form a trilogy of New York City-based, Rubin-helmed albums that helped to diversify hip-hop.Rubin's production credit on the back cover reads "REDUCED BY RICK RUBIN", referring to his minimalist production style, which gave the album its stripped-down and gritty sound. This style would serve as one of Rubin's production trademarks and would have a great impact on future hip-hop productions. Rubin's early hip hop production work, before his exit from Def Jam to Los Angeles, helped solidify his legacy as a hip hop pioneer and establish his reputation in the music industry.
Radio's release coincided with the growing new school scene and subculture, which also marked the beginning of hip-hop's "golden age" and the replacement of old school hip hop. This period of hip hop was marked by the end of the disco rap stylings of old school, which had flourished prior to the mid-80s, and the rise of a new style featuring "ghetto blasters". Radio served as one of the earliest records, along with Run-D.M.C.'s debut album, to combine the vocal approach of hip hop and rapping with the musical arrangements and riffing sound of rock music, pioneering the rap rock hybrid sound.
The emerging new school scene was initially characterized by drum machine-led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock, as well as boasts about rapping delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song, the artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the 1970s P-Funk and disco-influenced outfits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of acts prevalent in 1984, rendering them old school.In contrast to the lengthy, jam-like form predominant throughout early hip hop ("King Tim III", "Rapper's Delight", "The Breaks"), new school artists tended to compose shorter songs that would be more accessible and had potential for radio play, and conceive more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts; the style typified by LL Cool J's Radio. A leading example of the new school sound is the song "I Can't Live Without My Radio", a loud, defiant declaration of public loyalty to his boom box, which The New York Times described as "quintessential rap in its directness, immediacy and assertion of self". It was featured in the film Krush Groove (1985), which was based on the rise of Def Jam and new school acts such as Run-D.M.C. and the Fat Boys.
The energy and hardcore delivery and musical style of rapping featured on Radio, as well as other new school recordings by artists such as Run-D.M.C., Schooly D, T La Rock and Steady B, proved to be influential to hip hop acts of the "golden age" such as Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy.The decline of the old school form of hip hop also led to the closing of Sugar Hill Records, one of the labels that helped contribute to early hip-hop and that, coincidentally, rejected LL's demo tape. As the album served as an example of an expansion of hip hop music's artistic possibilities, its commercial success and distinct sound soon led to an increase in multi-racial audiences and listeners, adding to the legacy of the album and hip hop as well.
All tracks produced by Rick Rubin, except "I Need a Beat", produced by Rubin and Jazzy Jay.
All tracks are written by James Todd Smith and Rubin.
|1.||"I Can't Live Without My Radio"||5:28|
|2.||"You Can't Dance"||3:37|
|4.||"I Can Give You More"||5:08|
|1.||"Rock the Bells"||4:01|
|2.||"I Need a Beat (Remix)"||4:32|
|3.||"That's a Lie" (featuring Russell Rush)||4:42|
|5.||"I Want You"||4:51|
|UK Albums Chart||71|
|US Billboard 200||46|
|US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||6|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
The new school of hip hop was a movement in hip hop music starting 1983–84 with the early records of Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J. Like the hip hop preceding it, it came predominantly from New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by drum machine led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock. It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco influenced outfits, novelty hits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of artists prevalent in 1984, and rendered them old school. New school artists made shorter songs that could more easily gain radio play, and more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts. By 1986 their releases began to establish the hip hop album as a fixture of the mainstream.
James Todd Smith, better known by his stage name LL Cool J, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, author, and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. With the breakthrough success of his hit single "I Need a Beat" and the Radio LP, LL Cool J became an early hip-hop act to achieve mainstream success along with Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C.
Frederick Jay "Rick" Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and also established American Recordings. With the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, and Run-DMC, Rubin helped popularize hip hop music.
Paid in Full is the debut album of American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on July 7, 1987, by Island-subsidiary label 4th & B'way Records. The duo recorded the album at hip hop producer Marley Marl's home studio and Power Play Studios in New York City, following Rakim's response to Eric B.'s search for a rapper to complement his disc jockey work in 1985. The album peaked at number fifty-eight on the Billboard 200 chart and produced five singles: "Eric B. Is President", "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Move the Crowd", and "Paid in Full".
Def Jam Recordings is an American record label focused predominantly on hip hop, pop and urban music, owned by Universal Music Group. In the UK, the label takes on the name Def Jam UK and is operated through EMI Records, while in Japan, it is known as Def Jam Japan, operating through Universal Music Japan. The label distributes releases of various record labels, including Kanye West's GOOD Music, and Listen Up Forever Records, headed by producer, Ronny J. Current artists include Justin Bieber, Logic, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz, Teyana Taylor, YG, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Valee, Pusha T, Amir Obè, Fabolous, Krept and Konan, Desiigner, and Nasty C.
Lyor Cohen is an American music industry executive. Cohen has been actively involved in hip hop at various record labels for more than 30 years. He started by managing rappers for Rush Productions, then led Def Jam. After Def Jam, Cohen took on a leadership role at Warner Music Group. In September 2012, Cohen resigned from Warner and started his own independent label, 300 Entertainment. On September 28, 2016, Cohen was named YouTube's Global Head of Music.
Krush Groove is a 1985 American film by Warner Bros. that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz. This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons, portrayed by Blair Underwood in his feature film debut. Simmons was the film's co-producer and story consultant; he also had a cameo in the film as a club owner named Crocket.
Venni Vetti Vecci is the debut studio album by American rapper Ja Rule, released on June 1, 1999, via Murder Inc. and Def Jam. It was the first album to be released on Murder Inc. Production was mostly handled by Irv Gotti, with additional work provided by Lil Rob, Ty Fyffe, Erick Sermon and Self service. The album features guest appearances from Jay-Z, DMX, Case, Memphis Bleek, Black Child, Ronald Isley and Erick Sermon, among others. The album title alludes to the Latin phrase "veni, vidi, vici", meaning "I came, I saw, I conquered".
Walking with a Panther is the third studio album by American hip hop recording artist LL Cool J, released June 9, 1989, on Def Jam Recordings.
Mama Said Knock You Out is the fourth studio album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was produced mostly by Marley Marl and recorded at his "House of Hits" home studio in Chestnut Ridge and at Chung King House of Metal in New York City. After the disappointing reception of LL Cool's 1989 album Walking with a Panther, Mama Said Knock You Out was released by Def Jam Recordings on September 14, 1990 to commercial and critical success.
Golden age hip hop is a name given to mainstream hip hop music created from the mid-1980s to early-1990s, particularly by artists and musicians originating from the New York metropolitan area. An outgrowth of the new school hip hop movement, it is characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence on hip hop after the genre's emergence and establishment in the old-school era, and is associated with the development and eventual mainstream success of hip hop. There were various types of subject matter, while the music was experimental and the sampling from old records was eclectic.
Exit 13 is the twelfth studio album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was released on September 9, 2008 on the record label Def Jam Recordings. This would be his last album release with the label.
"I Can't Live Without My Radio" is the lead single from LL Cool J's debut album, Radio. It was released in 1985 for Def Jam Recordings and was both written and produced by LL Cool J and Rick Rubin. It is a love song to the boombox. The song found modest success, making it to #15 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. "I Can't Live Without My Radio" was released with the follow-up single "I Can Give You More". It is the first Def Jam single distributed through Columbia Records.
Terrence "Terry" Ronnie Keaton known by the stage name T La Rock, is an American old-school emcee best known for his collaboration with Def Jam Recordings co-founder Rick Rubin and the 1984 single "It's Yours."
Chung King Studios was a recording studio that operated in New York City under that name from 1986 to 2015. It was founded by producer John King and engineer Steve Ett with financial backing from the Etches brothers, occupying three different locations during that era. Countless notable hip hop acts recorded music at Chung King Studios over the years, including Run-DMC, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill, OutKast, ODB, Method Man, Nas, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. The studio became one of the most important recording spaces in the history of hip hop, pioneering commercial production of rap music. Beyond hip hop, notable groups like Aerosmith, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Depeche Mode, Destiny's Child, Fergie, Lady Gaga, Maxwell, Moby, and Phish also recorded there.
This article summarizes the events, album releases, and album release dates in hip hop music for the year 2008.
"Rock the Bells" is the third single from LL Cool J's debut album, "Radio". It was released in 1985 for Def Jam Recordings, was written by LL Cool J and produced by Rick Rubin. It was the follow-up to "I Can Give You More". "Rock the Bells" peaked at #17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Despite the song's title, no bells can be heard in the album recording. The original version of the song, riddled with bells of various types including a cowbell, is 7 minutes and 11 seconds long and was only released on 12 inch vinyl. It was based on the 1982 song "Breaking Bells" by Crash Crew.
"React" is a song by American hip hop group Onyx. It was released on June 2, 1998 by JMJ Records, Rush Associated Labels and Def Jam as the third single from Onyx's third album, Shut 'Em Down. The song featured Onyx affiliates X1, Bonifucco and Still Livin' and a then unknown 50 Cent in his first official appearance on a song.
Bobby "Bobcat" Ervin, professionally known as Bobcat or DJ Bobcat, is an American Grammy Award winner and multi-platinum producer, songwriter, DJ, artist and music executive.
Run-DMC was an American hip hop group from Hollis, Queens, New York, founded in 1983 by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell. Run-DMC is regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of hip hop culture and one of the most famous hip hop acts of the 1980s. Along with The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Public Enemy, the group pioneered new school hip hop music. The group was among the first to highlight the importance of the MC and DJ relationship.