LL Cool J Knocks You Out

Shadow boxing in this week's "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" edition of Forgotten Videos
  • LL Cool J in "Mama Said Knock You Out"
December 02, 2010 -- 12:51 pm PST
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos, "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" edition, showcasing past GRAMMY winners and nominees. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week until the nominations special on Dec. 1 we'll feature a video from a GRAMMY-winning or -nominated artist that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, just for old times' sake. We just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.


LL Cool J
"Mama Said Knock You Out"
1990

"Don't call it a comeback/I've been here for years," raps LL Cool J on the track that helped him ring in the '90s with a double-platinum-selling album. The rapper, who first gained mainstream fame for the 1987 pop-rap crossover ballad "I Need Love," was again propelled into the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 with Mama Said Knock You Out. With several hits off the album, including "Around The World Girl," both the hip-hop and pop worlds were introduced to a reinvented, hard-edged LL Cool J.

Storming onto the hip-hop scene at the ripe age of 16, Queens, N.Y.-native LL Cool J (an acronym for Ladies Love Cool James) was one of the first artist to release a single (1984's "I Need A Beat") on the then-start-up label Def Jam, which was helmed by producers Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, both college students at the time. Five years and three albums later, LL released Mama Said…, firmly cementing him as a true playa. The success that followed landed him a performance at former President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993, and roles in several films, including The Hard Way and Toys, which paved the way to his current starring role in CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles."

The video finds LL in a boxing ring with nothing but a mic and fighting words, likely directed toward the widely held idea that his career was waning at the time: "Destruction, terror and mayhem/Pass me a sissy so suckas I'll slay him." The story has it that LL's grandmother, still faithful to his talent and career, advised him to "knock out" all the critics, which was transformed into the song's memorable refrain: "Mama said knock you out/I'm gonna knock you out."

LL knocked out a troop of artists at the 34th Annual GRAMMY Awards, including M.C. Hammer, Ice-T And Queen Latifah, to win the Best Rap Solo Performance award for "Mama…" — his first GRAMMY win. LL would go on to win a second GRAMMY in the same category for "Hey Lover" five years later.

Last night, for the third consecutive year LL had the honor of hosting The Recording Academy's "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night."

What do you think of LL's knockout punch? Got a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment.

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