I can’t recall exactly which cassette I owned first â€“ L.L. Cool J’s Bigger and Deffer or Run-DMC’s Tougher Than Leather â€“ but both played huge roles in turning me on to hip-hop as a wee 9-year-old.
Like Radio before it, Bigger and Deffer blasted big boasts and gut-thumping beats. Hell, this album was too cool to have sides named A and B. No, they were called the “Bigger Side” and “Deffer Side,” naturally. I played that tape constantly, fascinated at the cadence of the beats and L.L.’s rhymes. Try not to get amped when L.L. flies in on I’m Bad: “No rapper can rap quite like I can / I’ll take a muscle-bound man and put his face in the sand.”
But we all know the L.L. that graced that cover â€“ Kangol and rope chain, the definition of B.A.D. â€“ isn’t the L.L. we know now. Zilla Rocca sums it up precisely: “Since 1997â€²s Phenomenon to present day, LL burned the goodwill of a thousand Kangols with each shallow and trendy album.”
And so it is that Curly Castro gives a voice to what we’ve all been thinking on his new single Eulogy to L, which is exactly what the title claims it is. Here lies James Todd Smith’s career: Rest in peace. It’s a bold callout â€“ delivered over Zilla’s breakdown of The Boomin’ System â€“ but one that gives the nostalgic among us a sense of closure.
Castro will be performing as part of 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers (with Zilla Rocca) on Friday, Feb. 18, at the Hidden House with Open Mike Eagle and Nocando in a show I’m sponsoring with the guys at Universatile Music. You might remember him from the last time Shadowboxers rolled through town.