Did I Like This? (Walking With a Panther)

Finally, an episode of Did I Like This? that no one has been waiting for! Well, I know not many people come to my blog to read this, but I hate leaving things unfinished, so I decided to explore another past hip-hop album and plan on doing all of them eventually. Today, I pick the other end of the spectrum, far away from the gangsta rap of previous albums: LL Cool J’s third album Walking With a Panther, released in 1989 by Def Jam.

What I Remember: Like most LL Cool J music, I remember enjoying it to a point but also feeling slightly embarrassed about it. This changed a little with Mama Said Knock You Out, but here, on the preceding album, most of it seems like such an act. The cover with the panther wearing a gold chain. Some songs just seemed plain silly to me. I don’t really know why I still listened to it, actually. It didn’t even feel like a guilty pleasure and, in fact, at 10 I shouldn’t even know what a guilty pleasure is.

What I Say Now: The opening beat is raw and somewhat exciting. There is a certain anger in the rapping and that first song, Droppin’ Em, really sounds decent and not that different from many other songs at the time. Lyrically it’s mostly bragging and wordplay, not worth talking about. But: almost no cursing, no f-words at all! Does that make him “soft”, as others probably would claim?

The next song, Smokin’ Dopin’ is not about drugs, but about music and dancing, but it’s a really boring song. How can you sing about dancing and make it sleep-inducing?

Here's a mean joint, all the hip-hoppers are singin it
Doin a dance in tight bike pants
So get up on it you'll only get one chance
to work out, the soreness in your muscles

Work-out song about tight bike pants? Welcome to the past, suckers!

Fast Peg tells the story of a girl who falls for the wrong guy,

She had to pay for her man's mistakes
They shot her in the head
That's the breaks

A strange story in which the girl doesn’t get a lot of sympathies either, even if it’s from her point of view. She’s just the dumb victim who can’t think for herself.

I’m the Type of Guy is a somewhat offensive song about him being the guy who takes away other guys’ girlfriends because he is so smooth and sneaky. He makes fun of men who don’t care about their women, but the women don’t even have a voice in that song, they are just the object of his macho sex games. Then there’s Big Ole Butt, where the title unfortunately tells you all. It’s a story about him having different girlfriends at the same time, showing them his lover skills and admiring their big butts. Yes, it’s even worse than it sounds.

Most of the other songs are bragging stories that repeat the same ideas over and over again. Then there are the infamous love songs that are the weakest songs on the album musically and lyrically. they really just don’t fit on this kind of album. And nothing against good love songs but these songs are just cheesy romance trifle.  And they are even more silly when compared with the stupid sex songs that accompany them on the album.

The last song is called Change Your Ways, which sounds like a call for revolution or, well, change, but it is as superficial as it gets.

Put your cigarette out, throw away your drink
Take a moment of silence to stop and think
Hah, we gotta change our ways
Or we'll never see brighter days

Well, nice try, L, nice try.

All in all, this is a pretty forgettable album. The lyrics are pointless and forgettable, sometimes offensive and sometimes embarrassing. The music is the best part of it, but there are still many better hip-hop albums than this.