* Prices may differ from that shown
"14 Shots To The Dome" was the fifth album by LL Cool J and it came out in 1993, nine years into his career. It has the New York rapper performing material after the big 1990 album "Mama Said Knock You" out, which had hits from the LP which had him performing hardcore raps, as the title track from the record. As a result, this has transferred onto this release as he didn't change too much from then.
1. "How I'm Comin'"
For me, as a intro, this was the perfect way to get this one started as you immediately get the idea of what direction he is going with for this album. Straight away I knew that LL was going for a style similar to his last album as it sounded like a re-work of "Mama Said Knock You Out".
2. "Buckin' 'Em Down"
With LL's newly found direction for music, you have him rapping in a way which seems to take influence from the militant was of acts such as Public Enemy, and it was if he had decided to take their views and simply put in a Gangsta Rap form, instead of a reserved, yet hardcore one.
3. "Stand By Your Man"
This one has LL rapping along to a jingling beat with a throwback sample of Slick Rick in order to keep him going. For me, with amazing pruction by Marley Marl to give him a strong foundation, it would be nearly impossible for him to to fail at what this one, and I was pleased to here him maintain the high standard with his raps as he advises girls to stay faithful to their men.
4. "A Little Somethin'"
Marley Marl's use of Old School samples is what drove this one, and as LL at one point could be considered an act from the early days of Hip Hop, especially with his "Radio" record, it was seemingly effortless that he rapped along to it with a style which matched trends of the time when this was released.
5. "Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Crushed By Buildings"]
Obviously, when you read a title like that, you will just be confused, as this is the most common reation which I saw it receive, however when you break it down and listen to the lyrics, it becomes apparent rather quickly as to what it means. I liked how he named-dropped as he went along to make you think of whay each of the Hip Hop acts represent as he went along. You should probably listen to it a couple of times before moving on from it as it take as while to fully comprehend.
6. "Straight From Queens"
This one has LL represent his ends in a way which hasn't really been heard that much, however I felt that as he had saved it up, this one seemed quite strong as he was able to do it in a perfect way after seeing many other New Yorkers before him rap out there big ups to BK. Here LL gets a Dancehall toaster to aid him in this one, and seeing that other Jamaican MCs before him managed to do so much with i, it appeared to be well-executed, but didn't really hit me.
7. "Funkadelic Relic"
As LL was albout ten years into his career, here he decides to showcase his journey in a track which has him go through his early years as he was influenced by "Rapper's Delight", became enlightened as he heard others around the time, and grew to release "I Need A Beat, bfore "Radio" and then "I Need Love".
I liked how he used smaples of his past hits to show his progression as he was able to talk about them and "Mama Said Knock You Out" without wasting bars on saying the titles. You get to see how far he has gone with his music, and how varied his music has been as he went from the Old School style, to then rap for the girls, and also take on the style of the West Coast with a little Gangsta Rap.
8. "All We Got Left Is the Beat"
here we have LL return to the genrela style of the album by going for some straight Gangsta Rap for th listners. I thought that it was a decent recording as he managed to keep it within his comfort zone, with some regular New York beats, (therefore not forcing it too soudn oo much like typical Gangsta tracks out of the West Coast).
9. "No Frontin' Allowed" (feat. Lords of the Underground)
I would have expected something big from this tune as a collaboration with Lords of the Underground is something which appeals to me, hoever I was a complete disappointment as nothing really came out this track to make it stand out form the rest of the material on the album. It was all just an average attempt at comign with the style of LA and nearby cities at the time.
10. "Back Seat"
LL plays up to what we know him best for; his love songs, and so here you get him doing it as only he can. I found you can tell by the full title "Back Seat (Of My Jeep)" what the tune revolves around here, and you get what you would expect from a Dirty Rap track of this sort. I thought that as it was one of the biggest-selling singles from the album, then it should be liked by most who are into his music.
11. "Soul Survivor"
Here is a big head bopper from the album whcih deinately shows LL's progression in the game. I thought that it was a great one to show how he has stayed relavent to the sounds of the time, and so from the lively cuts in the mid-eighties, to here in the early nineties he has changed to fit in with the conservative lyrical stuff too.
12. "Ain't No Stoppin' This"
Here I felt as though th rapper was tryign to brign back the old days where he could come with party tune sfor Hip Hop heads to enjoy, but failed to do so without attempting to get on some funky melody. As a result, you have him rapping in an exciting way, but with a beat which doens't match it, thee attempt fails.
13. "Diggy Down"
This a laid-back tune which used a sample of The Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By" to give it an authentic chilled feel, however aside from this beat to keep it going, the rest of the tune doesn't really suggest the same thing as LL continues to do the same that he has done throughout the album. I would have expeced him to adapt to what was given to him, but he clearly ignored it and tried to come with conscious lyrics (which fail).
I thought that this was a strong tune, however it definately left a lasting impression on me that he had changed. I found this rather haunting as he raps on top of thunderstorm sound effects, and chooses from here to frighten you with horrific descriptions ans you hear rain fallign throuhout the piece.
This album is quite obviously a differnt one for LL Cool J, and has him taking the "Mama Said Knock You Out" persona to its peak. Although I could find lots to complain about, with his repetitive failures to imitate West Coast Gangsta Rap, there was also lots of smaller successes in this album. These stand out significantly about the rest of the darker material on this album, which seems to dominate the main feelings which are created for the record.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 How I'm Comin'
2 Buckin' Em Down
3 Stand By Your Man
4 A Little Somethin'
5 Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Grushed By Buildings
6 Straight From Queens
7 Funkadelic Relic
8 All We Got Left Is The Beat
9 (NFA) No Frontin' Allowed
10 Back Seat
11 Soul Survivor
12 Ain't No Stoppin' This
13 Diggy Down