30 Years Since L.L. Cool J's "I'm Bad"

30 Years Since L.L. Cool J's "I'm Bad"

One of my favorite memories of growing on the south side in West Pullman was sitting on my parent’s porch at the old house on 123rd Street.

Growing up there or my friend Terry’s house (on the other side of 123rd Street), was the gathering spot since we lived on opposite corners.

It was a young black kid’s CNN, we found out everything on those porches and played sports in the cul-de sac right on Morgan Street.

I remember hearing Marvin Gaye died while sitting there in April of 1984, first listened to Prince’s music there a few months later (Purple Rain and later Around the World in a Day), and someone had the cassette tape for L.L. Cool J’s (Ladies Love Cool James), “I’m Bad”, in fact they had the whole Bigger & Deffer album on tape.

The single for “I’m Bad” was released 30 years ago this week, June 13, 1987.

The album was released on May 29th.

It was a # 1 Billboard R&B/ Hip Hop album and # 3 on the Billboard 200. It sold 3 million copies (triple platinum), and was LL’s best-selling album.

I remember his label Def Jam records had a tour that summer behind it with all the top artists performing (Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, etc.), and I wanted to go but knew I wasn’t old enough for that yet.

The Source Hip Hop magazine selected this as one of their 100 best rap albums nearly 20 years ago and I agree, it was a coming of age album for me, though I know it had mixed reviews at the time.

I was 11 years old and all I listened to back then was the hardest rap I could get my hands on and my parents would allow me to hear.

And this was the first rap song I heard with a “bad word” in it, yes he said “MF” in the first verse, yeah it truly was “Bad”.

You look at the cover and LL is standing on a car holding a wrought iron fence with a mean scowl. We all wanted to be like that dressed in black and look at you mean.

The way our music worked on 123rd Street was, you got a new tape and brought it to my porch or Terry’s porch to share. We had a Walkman and would pass around the headphones to listen to music.

This was music sharing long before any digital platform or software like Spotify.

I remember having my mind blown listening to LL spit those hard rhymes, the driving beat, the police siren in the background.

That song seemed to be everywhere in my small urban world, I later got the vinyl record (which I still own), and three of the first four songs just did it for me. “I’m Bad”, “Kanday” & “The Bristol Hotel”.

I’d be remiss not to mention the first rap love song was on this album “I Need Love”, but for us younger boys we weren’t into all that yet.

I even went to Boy Scout summer camp (Owasippe in Blue Lake Township MI), for the first time that year and we used to say the lyrics to this album the week we were up there while walking down the trails.

For me and my boys it was the soundtrack of the summer.

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