Today marks a momentous occasion for true connoisseurs of underground hip hop as we celebrate the anniversary of LL Cool J's groundbreaking album, "Walking with a Panther." While LL Cool J is undoubtedly a household name in the world of rap, this particular album often goes overlooked in the artist's discography. Released on June 9th, 1989, this album holds a special place for fans of lesser-known artists and those who appreciate the raw energy of underground rap. Let's delve into the significance of this underrated release and explore why it deserves recognition.
"Walking with a Panther" arrived during a pivotal time in hip hop history, where innovation and creativity were at their peak. While LL Cool J is a renowned figure in rap, this album often goes unnoticed in his discography. However, for aficionados of lesser-known artists, it stands as a hidden gem worth discovering.
The album marked a departure from LL Cool J's earlier works like "Radio" and "Bigger and Deffer." "Walking with a Panther" showcased the artist's versatility and willingness to experiment with different sounds, seamlessly blending rap, R&B, and pop elements. This musical fusion pushed the boundaries of hip hop in the late 1980s, making it an album ahead of its time.
A standout feature of "Walking with a Panther" is its production, with notable contributions from producers like Rick Rubin, L.A. Posse, and Marley Marl. The album's beats ranged from hard-hitting drums to smooth, soulful melodies, creating a diverse sonic landscape. This versatility defied easy categorization, making it a true gem within the underground hip hop scene. Lyrically, "Walking with a Panther" showcased LL Cool J's growth as an artist. While his previous albums emphasized boastful rhymes and battle raps, this project delved into more introspective and vulnerable themes. Tracks like "I Need Love" and "Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?" tackled topics of love, relationships, and inner-city struggles, connecting with listeners on a deeper level.
Despite its critical acclaim and commercial success, "Walking with a Panther" often lives in the shadows of LL Cool J's earlier and later releases. However, for fans who appreciate the grittier and more experimental side of hip hop, this album is a must-listen. It represents a pivotal moment in LL Cool J's artistic journey, where he dared to step outside mainstream expectations and carve his path within the underground scene.
On this anniversary, let's recognize the significance of "Walking with a Panther" in the tapestry of underground hip hop. It embodies the ever-evolving nature of the genre and the power of artists who take risks and challenge conventions. If you're a fan of underground hip hop, take a dive into the world of "Walking with a Panther" and allow LL Cool J's lyrical prowess and boundary-pushing sounds to captivate you. Experience the magic of this hidden gem in the hip hop landscape.
By: Steven Sandage