LL Cool J Kicking Nothing But Realness On 14 Shots To The Dome (Album Review)
CLASSIC RATING: 4 OUT OF 6
LL Cool J released his fifth album on March 30, 1993, on Def Jam/Columbia. The album is one of hip-hop's underrated albums which is usually criticized for adopting a supposedly west coast "gangsta" attitude but those critics are looking skin deep and are probably basing their perceptions on the title 14 Shots To The Dome which has a hardcore ring to it, however, it just represents 14 songs going into the listeners ears. To the contrary, 14 Shots is packed with social commentary which exposes the black man's struggle, the ills of the ghetto including poverty and violence, and decries all of it. On "Diggy Down" LL Cool J raps over an almost old school OutKast style beat, addressing issues such as crack selling, education, homelessness, corrupt charities, the poisoning of the natural environment, and gun violence. While "Crossroads" tells a much more dramatic version of some of the same topics specifically little kids selling crack, black on black violence and Divine Intervention.
LL also has numerous songs dealing with his other two main topics, namely women and his skills on the microphone, and both are stellar this time around. "Stand By Your Man" is more mature, as it should be, than his earlier works in this sphere. While "Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag" and "Back Seat" are standard LL womanizing but the lyrics are more elaborate showing that LL has grown as a lyricist in all aspects. The third component to this album is the battle-themed tracks where L flexes his microphone muscle over some really dope beats such as "How I'm Comin", "Funkadelic Relic" and "Ain't No Stoppin' This".
14 Shots is a really good album that was slammed back in '93 with critics accusing LL of "pretending" to be hard when in reality L was just kicking dope rhymes and giving us a socially conscious look at life in the ghetto. LL was facing some of the same issues as Will Smith because LL had just played in two movies, The Hard Way, and Toys, and some critics and even a lot of fans can't see beyond their surface impressions and really listen to the lyrics LL was kicking which were nothing but real.