They say money can buy you friends, and it's bought thirty-eight-year-old LL Cool J age-defying hit collabos before. But, damn, this is just too much: Eight of thirteen tracks on Todd Smith qualify as slow-jam duets (the cavalcade of candy-ass co-stars including Ne-Yo, 112, Ginuwine and Jamie Foxx), and none of them has a sweat droplet of the appeal of 1987's LL-as-Lothario classic "I Need Love." "My flavor's unreal/Smooth but hard/Like wood grain on the wheel," he fibs rather fecklessly on "Favorite Flavor," while Mary J. Blige oohs ornamentally over what sounds like a fistful of wet-naps fed into a juicer. The motivation behind team-ups like "It's LL and Santana" — that's Juelz, not Carlos — feels equally transparent, leaving one wondering whatever happened to the immortal MC who could carry an album by himself without needing a breath.
- Todd Smith
- LL Cool J
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