Mama Said Knock You Out is the fourth studio album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was produced mostly by Marley Marl and recorded at his “House of Hits” home studio in Chestnut Ridge and at Chung King House of Metal in New York City. After the disappointing reception of LL Cool’s 1989 album Walking with a Panther, Mama Said Knock You Out was released by Def Jam Recordings on September 14, 1990 to commercial and critical success.
Mama Said Knock You Out was released onSeptember 14, 1990, by Def Jam Recordings.It was promoted with five singles, four of which became hits: “The Boomin’ System”, “Around the Way Girl”, the title track, and “6 Minutes of Pleasure”. The album was certified double platinum in the United States, having shipped two million copies. According to Yahoo! Music’s Frank Meyer, Mama Said Knock You Out “seemed to set the world on fire in 1990”, helped by its hit title track and LL Cool J’s “sweaty performance” on MTV Unplugged. The title song reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by the RIAA. LL Cool J won Best Rap Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1991.
In The New York Times, Jon Pareles wrote that Mama Said Knock You Out reestablished LL Cool J as “the most articulate of the homeboys”, sounding “tougher and funnier” rapping about “crass materialism” and “simple pleasures”. In Mark Cooper’s review for Q, he wrote, “This 22-year-old veteran has lost neither his eye for everyday detail nor his sheer relish for words.” Select magazine’s Richard Cook said, “LL’s stack of samples add the icing to a cake that is all dark, remorseless rhythm, a lo-fi drum beat shadowed by a crude bass rumble. It could be Jamaican dub they’re making here, if it weren’t for LL’s slipper lip.” Mama Said Knock You Out was voted the ninth best record of 1990 in the Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics published by The Village Voice. Poll creator Robert Christgau later named it among his 10 best albums from the 1990s.
The album was included in Hip Hop Connection’s “Phat Forty”, a rundown of rap’s greatest albums: “The LP’s title track proved to be the single of the year and probably LL’s best record since ‘I’m Bad’, while ‘Eat ‘Em Up L Chill’ and ‘To Da Break Of Dawn’ was [sic] the sound of Cool J getting his own back – and in style.” In 1998, it was listed in The Source’s 100 Best Rap Albums. In 2005, comedian Chris Rock listed it as the sixth greatest hip-hop album ever in a guest article for Rolling Stone. In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked the album at No. 246 on their updated list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The hip hop duo Run the Jewels took their name from a lyric on the album’s sixth track, “Cheesy Rat Blues”
“Mama Said Knock You Out” is the fourth single by rapper LL Cool J from his fourth album of the same name. The song famously begins with the line, “Don’t call it a comeback/I been here for years.” Before “Mama Said Knock You Out” was released, many people felt that LL Cool J’s career was waning; his grandmother, who still believed in his talent, told him to “knock out” all his critics.The song was produced by Marley Marl with help from DJ Bobcat along with LL. The single reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, was certified Gold by the RIAA, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The song takes various shots at Kool Moe Dee.
The song uses samples from James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”, the Chicago Gangsters’ “Gangster Boogie”, Sly & The Family Stone’s “Trip to Your Heart”, the drum break from Sly and the Family Stone’s Sing a Simple Song, and LL Cool J’s own “Rock the Bells” (from his debut album Radio). The music video features LL Cool J in a boxing ring, rapping into the announcer’s microphone. Intercut with this are clips of boxing matches and LL Cool J exercising.
LL Cool J said in his autobiography that the idea for the song came from a discussion with his grandmother. He had said to his grandmother that he felt that he couldn’t survive as a rapper now that gangsta rap was popular and he was being dissed by several up-and-coming rappers. LL’s grandmother responded, “Oh baby, just knock them out!” She is featured in the closing scene of the music video, saying: “Todd! Todd! Get upstairs and take out that garbage.”
Rolling Stone ranked the song 29th on a 2012 list of the “50 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of All Time”.
Bob Dylan played it in the final slot of the “Mothers” episode of Season 1 of Theme Time Radio Hour in 2006. Dylan noted the song was “in the same tradition as the Dozens” and recited the first verse before playing it.
American heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch covered the song for their fourth studio album, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1. The cover features rapper Tech N9ne. The single was released on March 25, 2014 by Prospect Park Records.