On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
LL Cool J feat. Method Man, Redman, Canibus & DMX – 4, 3, 2, 1 (1997)
” 4, 3, 2, 1″ is a song by Queens rapper LL Cool J featuring Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, Canibus and DMX from LL Cool J’s seventh album Phenomenon as the second single. It was released on December 9, 1997, for Def Jam Recordings and was produced by LL Cool J and Erick Sermon.
We’re continuing our journey in the US, dear reader, but are leaving Florida and making our way to New York. LL Cool J began his career in the 1980s, rising to prominence with the likes of Run-DMC. Specialising in hip hop, LL Cool J has amassed an impressive amount of hit records and sales. We join him in 1997 with the release of his seventh album, Phenomenon, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – 4, 3, 2, 1.
In 4, 3, 2, 1 LL Cool J teams up with an array of other hip hop talents including Method Man, Redman, Canibus and DMX. The individuals share out vocal duties with the lyrical content being of a similar theme to other hip hop tracks, a lot of tough-talking and swagger about proceedings, all put together in a variety of increasingly clever ways. The main talking point of the song is that it was the catalyst for a bitter rivalry between LL Cool J and Canibus. The story goes that Canibus’ original take made reference to a tattoo on LL Cool J’s arm and he took offence at the lyrics. Canibus agreed to change the words only for LL Cool J to then record a verse laying into Canibus! Since then both have exchanged blows in their music. Nasty stuff indeed.
I am enjoying sampling hip hop, dear reader, though feel I have a long way to go to really appreciate the genre. Perhaps a future blog challenge could be to immerse myself deeply in hip hop, given my rock roots. Anyway, 4, 3, 2, 1 boasts a fine collection of hip hop stars and on the surface it seems all is well with the recording. The nasty business began after the song was released and I was glad to have delved into the research to find out more. I imagine this is a well-known and even old tale in hip hop circles. LL Cool J continues to perform and has amassed many honours in his career, though I imagine Canibus still doesn’t rate him!
Favourite songs so far: