Pop Screen: LL Cool J

LL Cool J

“Control Myself”

Dir. Hype Williams

Twenty-one years is a long time. Long enough for countless rap careers, trends and sounds to rise and fall. Long enough for James Todd Smith, known to the public as LL Cool J, to break out, fall off, come back, fall off again, come back again, and… fall off? Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with his newest video, “Control Myself,” featuring Jennifer Lopez (ugh) and Jermaine Dupri (double ugh).

For those who haven’t heard the song, don’t bother. It’s nothing new—one part “Lose Control,” one part “Lose My Breath,” and one part “Tricky.” LL and Jermaine engage in rhyme-scheme and sound-scape rip-off so blatant that it simultaneously makes the listener forget the former’s significant contributions to hip-hop while somehow also eclipsing the mountain of crap that the latter has produced. Poor J-Lo is stuck in the middle (literally—the video splits LL’s still-impressive torso in two, with the aging ass queen wasting space, wearing strange towel-hats and barely singing.)

I am also afraid that the average age of the three stars (damn near 40) is going to encourage hordes of middle-aged women to hit the bar mitzvah dance floor when this song comes on. The video itself is dated, as director Hype Williams remakes “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” as seen through a twice-cracked TV screen with Jermaine Dupri instead of Biggie. No one will regret not seeing this, and I’m extremely glad that, as a college student, I don’t have to come home to my mother singing this song, which is no doubt what’s happening right now.

I liked “Deliver Us From Eva.” I even liked “Headsprung.” But this time the lip-licking and ab-flexing just doesn’t cut it. LL needs to either control himself and stop recording or give Marley Marl another call.

-J. Samuel Abbott

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