RTB Rewind: Sept. 14, 1990 - LL COOL J Drops 'Mama Said Knock You Out'

RTB Rewind: Sept. 14, 1990 - LL COOL J Drops 'Mama Said Knock You Out'

Published Wed, September 14, 2022 at 11:04 AM EDT

On Sept. 14, 1990, LL COOL J dropped one of the most significant albums of not only his career, but in rap history, Mama Said Knock You Out.

While the Queens rapper was already a bonafide star by the time the album was released, cemented by previous classics, his 1985 debut, Radio, and his 1987 sophomore effort, Bigger and Deffer (BAD), his fourth album elevated him to another stratosphere. Produced by LL and legendary producer Marley Marl, the project was a rare mixture of mainstream hits and Hip-Hop gems, creating a concise effort that still stands as one of the greatest albums in rap history. At the start of the project, LL was hungrier than ever, mostly because of the critical response to his previous album, 1989's Walk Like a Panther.

"I definitely had a chip on my shoulder and I was disappointed about the critical response [of Walk Like a Panther]," LL said in a previous interview with Rock The Bells. "I felt people were mischaracterizing the album cover and the vibe, and didn't understand that we were celebrating success. They looked at the diamonds, jewelry, and cars as a sign of me being disconnected. When in reality, I was just living out my hustler dreams and that's just what I always wanted to do. And that was just how a young Black man displayed his success. I was more connected than ever. I was just running with the hustlers and hanging out and vibing."

Mama Said Knock You Out featured a string of classics, including one of his best releases ever, "Around The Way Girl," as well as "The Boomin' System," "6 Minutes of Pleasure" and the lead single "To da Break of Dawn." The title track, "Mama Said Knock You Out," remains one of his most recognizable songs, as LL declares his GOAT status over heavy-hitting, cinematic production.

"'Mama Said Knock You Out' was pretty much stream-of-consciousness from beginning to end," LL explained. "I was sitting around in a room full of dudes. We’re talking. The SP12 is playing. I’m coming up with vocals. I'm writing it down. I'm drinking beer and Old English is filling my mind and shit."

One of the most celebrated Hip-Hop albums of all time, Mama Said Knock You Out remains a staple of the genre.

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