80’s Mania Mondays: I Swear, I Can’t Find You Anywhere

Back when rap music was first heard on the radio, the music sounded a lot like R&B. The rhymes were mostly about party chants, whose rhyming skills were best, and who could move the crowd. There were also funny stories and a lot of rapid fire back and forth between and among group members. What you didn’t hear so much in those early days, were rap ballads.

You listen at what rap is today, you’re more likely to hear a rap ballad, albeit with lyrics so foul-mouthed you wouldn’t want your child to listen. For that matter, what passes for R&B ballads these days also contain explicit lyrics. There isn’t much of a call for romance, or courting, or leaving some things to the imagination. I suppose that is a changing of the times, but for me, I want a little bit of what made the old school great.

In finding today’s 80’s Mania Monday song, I saw a comment that referenced that today’s artist was “Drake before there was a Drake.” Drake, for those who don’t know, is one of today’s most popular rappers, but he also sings a lot of lyrics in his songs. Today’s artist didn’t sing so much, but he was one of the most gifted rappers out there, and has the longevity to be called a legend. Though now he mostly is an actor and host of the television show Lip Sync Battle, at one time, he was one of the greatest to ever rap on wax.

Today’s song, which incidentally is cited as the first rap ballad, is LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.”

By the time of this song, James Todd Smith aka LL Cool J, was on his way to becoming a superstar in rap music. Found on his second album, Bigger & Deffer, “I Need Love” would go on to hit #1 on the R&B chart, while landing at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would pave the way for the likes of Heavy D & The Boyz “Don’t You Know,” and many other slow jam rap songs. It also gave him license to try his hand at more ballads, but none of them were ever as popular as the first one. LL Cool J would chart rap hits through the 80’s, 90’s and even into the 2000’s (his most popular song on the R&B chart, “Luv U Better,” hit #1 for four weeks in 2002). For a career that began in 1985 when he was 17 years old, that’s a lot of longevity in what is a young person’s game.

Do you remember this one fondly? If so, or even if you don’t, tell me about it in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and listening.

For a new friend, who quoted the lyric “I’ll lay down my jacket so you can walk over a puddle” when I mentioned that I’d be writing about this today.


34 Replies to “80’s Mania Mondays: I Swear, I Can’t Find You Anywhere”

      1. Certainly is … Me and Youtube are part way through that trip a.t.m. πŸ˜‰ …
        but that convo of not making hiphop like it was … I’m pleased I grew up with it … pleased I embraced it (90s) … and its kinda sad to hear it completely butchered now. I read on a thread recently (can’t remember where now), that the old schoolers were trying to get ‘hip hop’ from this era, named as a completely different genre … I think they may have actually done it … because while they respected new ‘music’, they believed the stuff out now was only about $ and nothing to do with the art form. And they ‘politely’ insisted that it sounded like crap … I tend to agree πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I feel the same way. I miss the old school rap that I came up with, and while it evolved through the 80s, I hung around for a long time. But after a while, I grew apart from it. It just wasn’t the same.

        I hope you enjoyed the YouTube excursion… πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, current hip hop leaves those of us who grew up with it reminiscing over songs like these. They aren’t making them like that anymore. Everything is in our faces now, for better or worse. Thank you Susan!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Sooo, I vaguely remember this, but I don’t really. I rebelled against rap in the ’80s, although kind of really wishing rap was like this still, rather pleasing to the ears, and not that other stuff my child insists on listening to. Yes, I have turned into my un-cool parents. (True story: Years ago, I was listening to music in my car with the bass full blast, and my father came unglued with “turn that down!” and shouting other unmentionables. Present day, I walked into the house recently with my child listening to some rubbish and I instantly became my father.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This turns the kind of rap I know inside-out… not loud and brash and in-your-face, but a soft, heartfelt ballad, almost whispered. Great lyrics, too. I don’t remember this song, but can see why it hit #1 and why LL Cool J remains popular. Great pick! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh how I love LL….brings back so many incredible memories…like sucking on a lollipop, pair of bamboo earrings, overalls, tank top, red lipstick thinking I was an “around the way girl” but was missing the honey complexion…Ha! But this song, this song showed LL’s tender side. Great post Tracy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Let’s hear it for the girl, she’s from around the way!”

      And now I want to hear that LL Cool J song! Thanks to my blog’s “around the way girl”! Glad you remember this song, and thanks so much for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yep, my son’s father used to bump this when we would be coloring and playing paper dolls in the game room! LOL!!!
    You brought back some great memories with this one but I have to say, Cool James hit ’em real hard when he burst on the scene with “I’m Bad!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha….I’m going to guess there was some “baby talk” in there too! That game room had to be the joint!

      Yeah, the Lip Licker did burst on the scene with “I’m Bad,” though who can forget his brief cameo in Krush Groove where he did a verse of “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”? Or “Rock The Bells” which ruled the radio up here when it was released? Or even the likes of “Dear Yvette”, or “I Need A Beat”?

      Liked by 1 person

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