LL Cool J v. Wham!
Today begins the second half of the first round of the playoffs. In the interest of getting these blogs done quicker, I’m posting fewer videos, but more music (through Grooveshark, which is really handy for this). In the interest of making things more interesting I’m presenting today’s challenge as a dialogue between Professor J. T. Smith for LL Cool J and Dr. Andrew George Michael-Ridgeley for Wham! (No real person assisted in creating the blog except, of course, Terumi, whose assistance is invaluable).
Prof. Smith: LL Cool J is a hip-hop pioneer who brought popular song structure into hip-hop and helped bring it to the mainstream.
Dr. Andrew: Wham! was a pop phenomenon who in their brief 4-year career sold over 25 million records.
Prof. Smith: LL’s first single, “I Need Love”, got Def Jam Recordings going. That label would go on to introduce Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Slayer.
Dr. Andrew: Wham! was the precursor to many a bubblegum boy band, like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. And a little known singer by the name of George Michael.
Prof. Smith: LL was the first hip-hop artist to perform on MTV Unplugged. His performance of “Mama Said Knock You Out” is pretty awesome.
Dr. Andrew: Wham!’s first album featured some of the first raps from a British artist. Their performance of “Wham! Rap” on Top of The Pops is, well… It’s… uh… a touchstone to a different time.
Prof. Smith: If we’re talking about firsts, “I Need Love” is considered the first rap ballad. And what about the fashion impact of his Kangol hats? Huh?
Dr. Andrew: Yeah? What about the “CHOOSE LIFE” t-shirts?
Prof. Smith: Wham was a momentary flash in the pan. LL’s first hit was in 1984, his last was 2006. That’s a career length very few hip-hop artists can come close to matching.
Dr. Andrew: In the four years they were active, they released 3 albums. From 1985 to 86, they had 6 Top 10 hits in the US, 3 number 1’s (Two #1 UK albums, for that matter). LL Cool J has had how many?
Prof. Smith: You gonna go there? Okay. While LL Cool J only had one number 1 album (2000’s G.O.A.T), he’s had 2 top R&B singles and 8 rap chart #1’s. And Radio, Bigger and Deffer and Mama Said Knock You Out were named in the top 100 rap albums by “The Source” magazine. Furthermore, Radio is #84 on Spin’s list of the top 125 of their first 25 years. What do you have to say about that?
Dr. Andrew: Yeah? Wham! was the first western band to tour China. China! Not the Rolling Stones, not U2, not Kenny G. It was Wham! Take that!
Well, before this discussion between imaginary people gets any testier, you can choose. I’ll even post a playlist of each artist, so you can refresh your memory.