It is common for actors to explore their musical talents, as they complement each other like movies and popcorn. Growing up in the eighties, I recall Eddie Murphy, Don Johnson, and Philip Michal Thomas releasing projects. This week’s Second Listen Sunday pick is Gregory Hines, the late thespian and tap-dancing icon who released a self-titled album
Slow Jam Saturday: LL Cool J feat. Boyz II Men, Hey Lover
This weekend is about celebrating The King Of Pop, Mr. Michael Jackson, and his legacy. For this week’s Slow Jam Saturday, I initially had plans to do a write-up on “The Lady In My Life” from Thriller. However, in honor of Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary, I decided to go with one of my favorite Hip Hop ballads, “Hey Lover,” which samples the song.
The year was 1995, and legendary MC LL Cool J was at a crossroads in his recording career. While he had the lead role on the sitcom In The House two years prior, his fifth album, 14 Shots To The Dome, where he adapted a West Coast sound, was a critical and commercial failure. For album#6, Mr. Smith, Uncle L got back on track working with Hip Hop heavyweight producers Rashad Smith, Chad Elliott, and Easy Mo Bee. However, the Trackmaster’s production of the lead single, “Hey Lover,” propelled Mr. Smith to double platinum sales.
Linking up with the highly successful R&B quartet Boyz II Men, “Hey Lover” found LL using his appeal with the ladies to his advantage. Hip Hop heads already knew LL was no slouch in the bars department, but eight years prior, LL had changed the game with “I Need Love.” Thus, doing another Hip Hop ballad as the lead single for his comeback album made sense.
Sampling MJ’s “The Lady In My Life,” “Hey Lover,” opens with Michael “Bass” McCray giving an introduction and setting up the song. LL then smoothly confesses his emotions to a woman he has feelings for. In the song, LL expresses how he would love and care for the person he desires through various means. He begins by complimenting their appearance and acknowledging his attraction toward them.
LL then explains how he wants to take her out on dates and treat her like a queen while promising to be faithful and loyal. And, of course, we have to shout out to 4 guys from Philly who slay the hook on the song. I was in eighth grade when the song dropped, and I remember so many fellas who lacked game using the song for dedications on the Back Seat Slow Jam segment on the local radio station.
Despite some folks looking for internet fame by trying to cancel LL, twenty-eight years later, “Hey Lover” is still a BOP that expresses admiration for someone who has caught your eye.
Final Grade: A
“Hey Lover” from Mr. Smith is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
It’s been six years since audiences experienced the rating-breaking three-part mini-series, The New Edition Story. I still remember my excitement walking into an advance screening of Part 1 on a cold January night. One of my favorite scenes occurs in this part when a young Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins are supporting a pre-teen Bobby Brown in a talent show. The local Boston-based group, The Untouchables, is performing a cover of Philly soul group Blue Magic’s “Spell” before Bobby takes the stage. After hearing another cover version of the song in Michael Bivin’s documentary, The Hustle of 617 Biv, I decided to feature it for Slow Jam Saturday.
R&B fans were elated this past summer when R&B legend Raphael Saadiq announced he had reunited with Tony! Toni! Toné! for a fall tour. The tour kicked off this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, with twenty-five planned stops. I plan on attending the Oxon Hill, MD, stop this coming Monday.