Release Date: Sep 9, 2008
Record label: Def Jam
LL Cool J :: Exit 13Def JamAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaDivorce rates are down to their lowest level for many years in the UK - unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case in Def Jam. After pumping all their cash into one-hit wonders, Rihanna/Ne-Yo and marketing for any time that Jay-Z rolls out of bed, they seem to be casting off deadwood. Calling LL Cool J "deadwood" is something that you wouldn't really do to his face, and the big man has finally had enough of being treated like a third rate rapper.
With Common and Xzibit taking the Hollywood roles that James Todd Smith might have chewed on a few years ago, it's good to know that LL Cool J has recovered from the 2000-era drubbing he received from Canibus and is still capable of knocking out a decent album. Simply running through his extensive resumé makes for impressive subject matter when welded to orchestral, bombastic production. That never gets old if done right, and that happens often here.
Wrapped in what is possibly the most prog rock sleeve design in hip-hop history, Exit 13 marks LL Cool J's departure from Def Jam, the pioneering label the MC helped build. It begins with the blustery and overblown "It's Time for War," an embittered reclamation where he sounds more like he's shooing kids off his lawn than reigning over his territory. There are a couple tracks where LL sounds as on fire as ever, usually when his targets are specific rather than general, as on "You Better Watch Me" and "This Is Ring Tone M.