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L.L. COOL J, Todd Smith, Def Jam
L.L. opens his 12th album by declaring "you're witnessing history." But he must mean something besides the opener, "It's L.L. and Santana," because the track is nothing special. It's understandable that L.L. chose not to follow the crowd and come several years late with a Carlos duet, but that would be a lot closer to qualifying as "history" than a Juelz pairing. The level of excitement L.L. shows while shouting that phrase throughout the cut is not met by the actual results. In fact, the L.L.-Juelz combo is far from monumental and ultimately falls flat. And there's definitely nothing historic about his second collabo with Jennifer Lopez on "Control Myself." His admitted attempt to recapture the lyrical vibe of "Going Back to Cali" with a beat designed for dance-floor appeal is painfully obvious, and falls far short of that milestone. And when he replaces lyrics toward the end with a series of Z's -- a nap starts to sound like a nice alternative to continued listening. Thankfully, Mary J. Blige arrives to get things back on track on "Favorite Flavor." The next guest is Jamie Foxx on "Best Dress" as the "Any Given Sunday" stars put their problems in the past. At least that's one beef he resolved -- and isn't
afraid to address. "Preserve the Sexy" revives the back-and-forth formula of L.L. hit "Doin' It," this time with Teairra Mari in the role of LeShaun. Again, it falls short of the bar set by L.L. so many years ago. The highlight of the album might just be the Freeway-blessed "What You Want," in which L.L. shows he can still bring it on the mic at a speed faster than R&B. The seemingly unending series of guest appearances continues, which makes you start to feel like a groupie waiting for some alone time with L.L. But just when it appears there will be a break on the 10th track -- "#1 Fan" has no guests listed -- sure enough, there's a singer on the hook. Guess Miredys Peguero wasn't enough of a name to make the album cover. The rest of the album is cameo heavy as well. 112 takes L.L. "Down the Aisle," and now that he's married, it's time to get religious with Mary Mary on "We're Gonna Make It." By the time Ne-Yo finishes the worthwhile bonus track remix, you're no doubt "So Sick" of R&B hooks. Next time out, L.L. needs to take it back to the '80s, ditch the guests, dump the R&B for select songs and deliver a hardcore solo album. L.L. is a living legend without limited lyrics, so he doesn't need to do Biggie's Duets. The $1 rating is harsh, but I have no desire to ever put this CD in again. Not even for one track. Fetch, Fido! Click here to find out how to buy this album.

-- Mason Storm

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