LL Cool J had a string of Top 20 hits last year - 'Hey Lover', 'Doin It' and 'Loungin'... The success story continues with 'Phenomenon' which crashed straight on to the UK chart at No. 9 on 26th October '97.Odd omission from that sleevenote: LL Cool J had a Number One single in 1997 with his version of 'Ain't Nobody', which is one of the least remembered chart-toppers of the era but I didn't expect them to forget it within a year. True enough that you're more likely to hear this one nowadays though.
Hip-hop fans (or owners of Now 3) will of course recognise the "something like a phenomenon" chorus from Grandmaster Melle Mel's 'White Lines', though it is in turn derived from 'Cavern' by Liquid Liquid. That distinctive bassline is derived from the classic Bill Withers song 'Who Is He And What Is He To You, sampled via a cover version by Creative Source. Whilst the aforementioned elements are the highlights of the track, it's well-produced (by Puff Daddy of all people) and has a smoothness that suits casual listening. The lyrics are pretty bog-standard male rapper boasting, but delivered in a whispered tone that always made me imagine he was recording with his mum in the next room and he didn't want her to know he was rapping about rude things. Unless that amuses you, the vocals are probably best ignored. And if that doesn't amuse you, neither will my brother and I pronouncing LL Cool J in the same way as Welsh place names that start with double-l (eg Llanelli and Llandaff). It made us laugh though.
Also appearing on: Now 60
Available on: Club R&B (International Version)