Exit 13 (Bonus Track Version)
Def Jam couldn’t have existed without LL Cool J, and LL Cool J couldn’t have existed without Def Jam. After 24 years and 13 albums, Exit 13 brings LL’s contract with the legendary label to a close, thereby ending one of the mightiest, and most mutually beneficial partnerships in hip-hop history. The album finds LL revisiting several of the trademarks he has established over the course of his long career. Loverman rap (“Baby,” “I Fall In Love”), fearsome braggadocio (“It’s Time For War”), and funky, sample-laced tracks underscored by deadly lyricism: “Thorough to the max / Q-borough matter fact / Ice so sharp it cut through your cataracts” (“We Rollin’”). Like many of LL’s later-period albums Exit 13 suffers from an overload of divergent ideas, but a few old school throwbacks bring welcome closure to LL’s tenure with Def Jam. “Rocking With the G.O.A.T.” is a head-knocker that unites LL with his boyhood nemesis Marley Marl, while the slithering “This Is Ring Tone M…” returns rap to the dingy Big Apple birthplace, courtesy of Grandmaster Caz and former EPMD member DJ Scratch. Mr. Smith, you have come full circle.