In celebrating the launch of LL Cool J’s recent launch of the Siruis XM channel “Rock The Bells” radio wanted to continue digging in his extensive discography of tracks. Providing prime examples as to why LL Cool J among hip hop purists is considered to be one of the all time greats. Why he is an ambassador for real hip hop. Wanted to focus specifically on memorable “posse cuts” he was a part of. Tracks consisting of four or more emcees. In many cases this was a big event due to having so many high caliber artists on one track. Sparking debates among fans on who had the best lyrics and punchlines. Sometimes an emcee would have lines directed at another artist that was on that very same track.
One of these tracks LL Cool J shined on was the classic remix of Craig Mack ‘s 1994 smash “Flava In Your Ear”. This track has such historical significance, launching Bad Boy Records and Notorious Big into the stratosphere. Along with LL and Notorious Big on the track were Rampage, Busta Rhymes, and of course Craig Mack. The track also helped resurrecting LL Cool J’s status in the hip hop community. At the time he was coming off of 1993’s project 14 Shots To The Dome. The album had only been certified gold. All his previous albums at that point had been certified platinum or multi-platinum. The “Flava In Your Ear” helped serve as a catalyst returning to multi-platinum status with 1995’s Mr Smith project.
Craig Mack – Flava In Your Ear (remix) feat. Notorious Big, Rampage, LL Cool J, & Busta Rhymes
Mr Smith would end up going double platinum. On the b-side of the album’s first single “Hey Lover” was the remix to “I Shot Ya”. At this point in his career LL cool J’s work would have a heavier presence of r&b tracks. However, he made sure to still put out tracks to remind everyone that he can hold his own or outshine the best of the best emcees at the time. The track had Keith Murray, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, Fat Joe, Foxy Brown, and LL Cool J on the last verse. Mass Appeal(Link) https://massappeal.com/ll-cool-j-i-shot-ya-remix-20-year-anniversary/ Put out a great article on how much of an impact the track had with all the artists involved. For LL’s part he was going directly at Hammer, Kool Mo Dee, and Ice T. Tupac interpreted it as a subliminal diss in reference to his shooting at Quad Studios in New York in 1994.
LL Cool J – I Shot Ya (remix) feat. Keith Murray, Prodigy, Fat Joe, & Foxy Brown
The follow up project, 1997’s Phenomenon showcases LL Cool J’s most memorable appearance ever on a “posse cut”. The second single “4,3,2,1” produced by the one and only Erick Sermon. LL Cool J was accompanied on the track with Method Man, Redman, DMX, Canibus, and Master P. Each emcee provided classic verses. What makes this “posse cut” standout from the others is that LL was going directly at Canibus on the track.
When Canibus originally went in the studio lay down his verse the original lyrics included “L is that a mic on your arm? Let me borrow that”. This was in reference to the tattoo that LL Cool J at the time had recently put on his right arm. Canibus was coming from a place of idolization. However, LL made him rewrite the verse. In the new version Canibus said, “I’ll snatch your crown with your head still attached to it. Canibus is the type who’ll fight for mics”.
Canibus Original 4,3,2,1 Verse
LL decided to release some bars to put Canibus in his place. Canibus was new to the scene at the time. How could a newcomer have the audacity to think he could come at LL in such a way? A good portion of LL Cool J’s part are strictly barbs towards Canibus. Most notably “The Symbol on my arm is off limits to challengers. You hold the rusty swords I swing the Excalibur”. As well as “Now let’s get back to this mic on my arm. If it ever left my side it’d transform into a time bomb. You don’t wanna borrow that, you wanna idolize”.
LL Cool J – 4,3,2,1 feat. Method Man, Redman, Canibus, DMX, & Master P
The next significant “posse cut” LL showed up on was 1999’s “4 Seasons” off of Method Man and Redman’s album Blackout. The three emcees were accompanied by Ja Rule who was just beginning his massive run that would last several years. Even after being in the game at that point for almost fifteen years LL Cool J showed he could still be among the elite. Many to this day feel he out shined everyone on this track.
Method Man and Redman – 4 Seasons feat. LL Cool J and Ja Rule.
The last posse cut to revisit from LL Cool J’s discography is the remix to Freeze which was the second single off of the 2006 album Todd Smith. This was around the time he started to affiliate himself with 50 cent and G-Unit. The official title is LL Cool J – (Freeze Remix) You Can Bump This feat. 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Hot Rod. At this point the “G.O.A.T” had been in the game for 20 plus years and still could bring the heat.
LL Cool J – (Freeze Remix) You Can Bump This feat. 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, & Hot Rod
In recent years LL Cool J has been primarily focused on his acting, dabbling with music here and there. Back in 2014 he had announced working on the G.O.A.T 2. A project that would be that raw, uncut, pure hip-hop. Hopefully sooner than later it will see the light of day and LL will remind us why he is an ambassador of real hip hop and one of the greatest of all time.