Tenth album from veteran rapper sounds as fresh as his first

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LL Cool J – 10

The numerical milestone has inspired LL’s best album since 1987’s Bigger And Deffer. Predominant are five tracks produced by the Neptunes, who again demonstrate their genius. The woozy post-psychedelic backing they provide on “Luv U Better” is worthy of My Bloody Valentine. Their example seems to have raised LL’s game: the album varies from blissful pop (“Paradise”) to warped fantasies (“Lollipop”) which at times outweird even the Neptunes. He sounds like an older, equally powerful brother to Jay-Z: hear his roars against the choral sample on “10 Million Stars” contrasted with the claustrophobic whispers on “Mirror Mirror”.