LL Cool J: Exit 13

On his 13th album, hip-hop lothario LL Cool J comes out swinging by waging war against naysayers. It's a fiery opening; yet much like the current war in Iraq, some battles are long overdue for a screeching halt — especially since his bravado is now overmatched by reality. LL may call himself the "undisputed king of hip-hop," but these days the crown rests a lot farther down South. Still, you can't knock LL's confidence and efforts to redeem himself after a slew of unmemorable albums. The self-professed "G.O.A.T." — "greatest of all time," if you're counting — took two years to record this album. Maybe two more were in order; with lines like this, judge for yourself: "You go, girl, you make me wanna holler / I'll take George off and put your boobs on the dollar." Elsewhere, "Cry" features Lil' Mo singing a hook that sounds nearly identical to the one she sang eight years prior. Exit 13 does offer some decency in the way of "5 Boroughs" and the radio-friendly "Feel My Heart Beat," but with 19 tracks, they're muddied by the rampant number of fillers. When LL rhymes, "My style can't be defined / I'll be relevant forever / get it through your mind," it's hard not to agree with him. But if Exit 13 is the best he can do as an assault on hip-hop's upper echelon, it's not time for war. It's time to stand down.

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