L.L. Cool J: Walking With a Panther (1989)

ll cool j pantherBy Scott Goldfine

Like the tail of a screaming comet, this new LP by rap’s biggest ego (and that’s saying a lot) arrives on the heels of the across-the-board smash single “I’m That Type of Guy.” That cut, surely to wind up as one of the summer’s biggest hits, is buoyed by a relentlessly slammin’ groove and propelled by L.L.’s smooth but brazenly aggressive rap. Unfortunately, the rest of the generous collection — 16 tracks on wax, 18 on CD and 20 on cassette ― isn’t as inventive.

While the East Coast rapper’s first two albums were particularly noteworthy for their humorous lyrics, this one is hamstrung by a number of routine boasting efforts and stalls on a trio of rap ballads. However, there are some standouts, including the sing-along “Clap Your Hands,” the amusing “Big Ole Butt” and the dance nugget “Change Your Ways.”

Next time around, if L.L. wants to keep up with the Kool Moe Dees and the Public Enemies, he ought leave some material on the mixing-room floor and get busy with a condensed set of serious jams. Until then, we’ll just have to pull the cream off the top of “Walking With a Panther” and make our own versions.

GRADE: B-

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