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“Authentic”? What jive. LL Cool J is rap’s longest-running act, and it’s his pop savvy, his indifference to orthodoxy, his easygoing star power that’ve kept him going. On Authentic, LL’s first LP not released by Def Jam, the guest list is a testament to open-mindedness and crossover ambitions: Snoop Dogg, Travis Barker, Chuck D, Charlie Wilson, Eddie Van Halen, Earth, Wind and Fire, Monica, Seal, Brad Paisley. The beats are unfussy and direct; the choruses are built for radio. LL has never been a dazzling rhymer or a technical virtuoso; he remains a personality first, who injects all his songs – party anthems, boasts, come-ons – with friendliness and fun. Not “authentic” – amiable.


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