LL Cool J

10

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No, "10" isn't the rating of LL Cool J's flexed biceps or his bare chest, it's the number of albums he's recorded for Def Jam -- and the title of his latest. As on his last couple, LL moves back and forth between lovers rock and a few hardcore tracks. He sounds more comfortable singing to the ladies though, with a little pleading and a lot of telling how it's going to be, balancing his usual gravelly delivery with plenty of sweet, female-led choruses. Surprisingly, despite a strong roster of producers (Tone & Poke, the Neptunes, Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence), 10 isn't much of a head-turner. Only the DJ S&S production "Fa Ha" lets LL Cool J relax into a solid hardcore groove. Just like on the cover, there's a lot of posturing going on here, but very little substance.

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