LL Cool J’s ’14 Shots to the Dome’ Remembered 20 Years Later
The year was 1993, and it seemed rapper LL Cool J could do no wrong. At 25, he was the poster boy for commercial success in hip-hop with four major selling albums under his belt. So his fifth studio LP, ’14 Shots to the Dome,' was highly-anticipated when it was released in June, 20 years ago.
But sometimes artists do disappoint. LL received much criticism for his artistic approach to this effort in copying the styles of West Coast gangsta rap. This did not sit right with his fans, and critics alike saw this album as a low point for the Queens native. Unlike his previous four platinum albums, this effort only went gold.
‘How I’m Comin',’ the first single from the 14-track project, takes from ‘The Humpty Dance’ by Digital Underground. On the track, LL taunts his supposed rap enemies with threats. “But I'm bustin' off hip-hop clip after clip / I kept you out there / Ripped you for your wear / Jump inside your video, bust you with a chair,” he rhymes.
On the track ‘Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings,’ he cornily compares himself to other emcees as he spits game to his lady of interest. “Well, can we do ya so Heavy ah D? / She said, 'You tried to play me / Like Big Dad-dy' / I said, ' know your Tribe / I Called and re-Quested,'" he rhymes. The song’s title is a metaphor for making love as he says in the beginning of the song.
The biggest single success from this album came from ‘Back Seat (of My Jeep).’ The song made it to No. 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 24 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. The track was also sampled two years later by a new young songbird out of Atlanta, Monica, for her song ‘Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days).’
‘14 Shots to the Dome’ does boast a list of samples that would make any struggling rapper at the time jealous. Such big names include Sly & the Family Stone on ‘How I'm Comin,’ James Brown on ‘Straight From Queens' and Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick on ‘Stand by Your Man.’
This LP may not have been one of LL Cool J’s most shining moments, but as a rapper who’s been around for decades at this point, it’s clear one bad album did not stop his show.
Watch LL Cool J's 'Back Seat' Video