LL Cool J At Hot Summer Night 2015 – Even When He’s Bragging, He’s Being Sincere

LL Cool J at Hot Summer Night 2015

He’s still bad.

I’m not one for bucket lists. But if I was one for bucket lists, watching my favorite rapper of all-time live on stage would be on that list.

These days, you don’t hear LL Cool J’s name thrown out there in conversation about the best rappers. You’ll still hear Rakim’s name. You hear a lot of Nas and Jay Z. Even though he only had two albums of material, you hear more about Notorious B.I.G. than you do about LL. And please, don’t bother me by trying to add Eminem to this conversation.

From 1985 through 1990, you can make an argument for LL being near the top of lists. He was braggadocious, a good battle rapper, and had that one thing that separate the good entertainers from the great ones; he was larger than life when on stage.

But since 1990, he’s had a few decent albums and one or two passable ones. But most of his output during the 2000s has been less than stellar, as should be expected based on how his career path went. He’s a true crossover star now. He’s done television and movies and is probably better known to kids as the host of the Grammys than as an all-time great rapper. Well, if the kids watched the Grammys.

I’m not sure why I’ve never seen him live. But I’m thankful I finally did.

The show featured LL as the main act, but also featured Bell Biv Devoe, Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty By Nature, MC Lyte, and Case. Now, one of these things is not like the other. I’m not sure why Case was added to the bill. And at the end of the show, when LL shouted out all the acts before him, he forgot about Case.

I missed Case (semi-purposely) and settled in when Lyte was in the middle of her act. As if everyone didn’t already know, MC Lyte is still a killer. I really wish she could come back on the scene today because she’s still head and shoulders above most MCs (male and female). If you had a rap-off of all the acts performing on this night, the final three would’ve been Treach, Lyte, and LL. Ronnie Devoe would’ve finished in last.

Naughty By Nature went on after Lyte. Outside of their four biggest hits, many of their songs weren’t as recognizable by fans, but Vinnie did his best job to try and hype the crowd anyway. A couple of years ago, Treach said Vinnie was out of the group, but I guess they were able to reconcile.

Treach went from a sweatshirt to a t-shirt, to a tank top, and then by the end was predictably shirtless.

Near the end of their set, knowing that Salt-N-Pepa were coming up next, I wondered how awkward it may be for Treach and Pepa to perform at the same concert, considering they were married for a few years. Hopefully, it’s not that awkward. Though, it’s not like Pepa brought my man out for Whatta Man.

By the way, they changed a lyric in that song. Rather than, “A body like Arnold with a Denzel face,” it was changed to, “A body like The Rock with a Denzel face.”

I have a problem with this. For one, how are you going to diss Arnold like that? And secondly, have they not seen Uncle Denzel lately?

Salt-N-Pepa were totally fine. They do look a little bit like Salt-N-Pepa’s aunties now, but they still get a great reaction. And I’ve always been a sucker for Spinderella, even now in her Auntie Spin days.

By the way, check out my man in the Public Enemy shirt. Pep, you left Treach backstage for this guy?

The guy in the public enemy shirt was killing us #hotsummernightskblx #saltnpepper #spinderella

A video posted by Jennifer Huang (@jennifee888) on

It was time for Bell Biv Devoe to come out. Think about this for a second. As Bell Biv Devoe, (which was literally the leftovers from when the New Edition members all decided to go solo at the same time) they put out just three albums. One was Poison, one of the greatest party albums ever. The second was Hootie Mack, which wasn’t nearly as good. And the third was simply called BBD, released in 2001. The reason you’ve never heard of the third album is because no one bought it or listened to it. But if you wish to, it’s probably in the 99 cent used bin at your nearest record store.

But simply based on the power of that one album, they can still tour as a three-some and kick all kinds of ass. How amazing is that? Who else can still do that? You don’t see MC Hammer getting chances to tour at concerts like these.

(Maybe it’s because LL crushed Moe Dee, Hammer, and Ice-T’s girls.)

By the way, I’m still confused by Hootie Mack, 21 years later. I haven’t been able to get over this. They had a really good lead single called Gangster, made famous because of an episode of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air in which BBD rented out the Banks’ house to shoot the music video.

Instead of utilizing the fame from the show, they scrapped it from the album altogether, allegedly because they couldn’t clear the samples. What? Well, then again, look at all the songs they sampled for it. Sheesh.

Why all the lead-in to BBD? Well, I missed most of their set. My homie-in-concert-crime, Anna-Liza was hungry after a long day of playing tennis and we went to get food. The line was about 15-20 people deep and the poor older woman behind the counter was having a heckuva time moving. Yes, I said moving. She was either tired or sore and had a bad memory. It would take her a few minutes to get the food and drink and then half of the order was wrong so she had to double back and correct the order, all while not moving very quickly. I think we were in line for about 45 minutes.

By the time we got back to our seats, BBD hit the, “Over and over and over again,” line asking their girls when they’d see them smile again. And then they closed with the home run that is Poison. Rather than just do the song and get off the stage, they put a wrinkle on it.

During the middle of the song, they pulled up some audience members to the stage to help out with the video choreography.

Whenever this happens, people go into business for themselves. Rather than try and do the actual choreography, all of the women pretty much just started dancing on their own. When they gave the fellas a chance to do the dance, a couple of them tried and actually did a decent job. But one guy went straight to humping the ground before picking up one of the ladies and freaking with her. Let’s just say he was a strong dude.

I’d seen BBD’s set at a New Edition concert so I was cool with not seeing the entire thing. But if you haven’t seen them in a while, go see them. They’re in great shape for 47 year old dudes, dance their asses off, and put on a great show.

It was now time for the main event. LL didn’t hesitate to get it started the right way, going right into Mama Said Knock You Out. The guy is also 47 years old and is a diesel. The one thing that worried me slightly was how well he was going to keep up. And he was nearly perfect. Everything was crisp. He put on a show.

I don’t go to a lot of hip hop shows, but I have been to a Jay Z concert when he was touring for The Blueprint 3. And Jay Z by nature is just more of a laid back dude. But LL kills him when it comes to live shows. He has a performing energy that Young Hov doesn’t possess.

LL performed three of his hardest songs from the very top. Following his first song, he segued into Jack The Ripper and then I’m Bad. He then went into a few pop hits like Doin’ It, Loungin, and Headsprung.

I’ve always thought it was weird that the remix to Loungin featuring Total sampled the same exact song that Shades’ Tell Me (I’ll Be Around) did. And they both came out right around the same time. Shades just got their first blog hit in years. Boom. Ain’t nothing going on but the rent.

Shades – Tell Me by chocosuisse30

(By the way, if you listen to this song and pay attention to the lyrics, it seems like it influenced Destiny’s Child’s Bills heavily. I’m not saying Beyoncé isn’t original, but after the being sued by Des’ree, she may very well simply be a biter.)

LL then hit us with I Can’t Live Without My Radio, Around The Way Girl, his verse on EPMD’s Rampage, Jingling Baby, La Di Da Di (for some reason), and then he went stylin’ and profilin’ with Going Back To Cali.

#hotsummernightskblx #llcoolj

A video posted by Jennifer Huang (@jennifee888) on

At this point, Uncle L, the future of the funk, wasn’t giving us full songs. He was giving us first verses and that was about it. If I could give some advice to my man, there wasn’t a real need to hit us with 30 seconds of Illegal Search and Mr. Goodbar if you weren’t going to give us the full I Need Love. I was happy to see a little bit of I Need A Beat at least.

Still, he ended it strong with Rock The Bells. I’m not quite sure where Cut Creator on the fader was though.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and felt like a young teenager again seeing one of my hip hop heroes. If LL comes around again, I’d definitely check him out. But I would love to see his playlist change slightly to give us more full songs and less of a potpourri of LL’ness.

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4 Thoughts on “LL Cool J At Hot Summer Night 2015 – Even When He’s Bragging, He’s Being Sincere

  1. This is a solid bill, sounds like it was a great time too.

    I saw LL two or three years ago. He’s still got it as a live performer. So does BBD as a matter of fact. So much of that era is a cautionary tale. It’s great to see artists who kept themselves together, and even though they don’t have good new material, they’re still able to draw big 25-30 years in.

    Lyte has an album out now–came out in April, actually. It’s not very good. But bless her for trying.

    • I’m still in amazement at those dudes for being in such great shape. Lyte too. Pepa still looks great too.

      I don’t know that I’m looking forward to LL’s supposed GOAT 2 album though.

  2. Oh. Is that supposed to be a thing?

    • I heard something about it and then LL’s Wikipedia has it listed as coming out in 2015. Then again, it’s kind of late for it to be coming out in 2015 and us not hearing much about it.

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