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LL Cool J's heyday may have come two decades ago, but during a 40-minute performance before a crowd of several thousand at Riverfest, he proved he’s no has-been. The concert-goers who relentlessly tried to push their way close to the Budweiser Stage in North Little Rock also proved the rapper's enduring popularity.
Having swapped performance times with Parliament, LL Cool J took the stage about 6:25 p.m., wearing his typical baseball cap, T-shirt and jeans and dazzling the women in the crowd with his muscular body. He pumped up the audience with "I Can't Live Without My Radio," the title track from his first album, 1985’s “Radio,” then rocked the house with "I'm Bad," "Rock the Bells" and "Mama Say Knock You Out."
Onstage, LL also created a club atmosphere with what he called "Club LL Cool J" — and it was one big party. LL turned his DJ loose to show his authority with the turntables via a "scratch and mix" of various rap and dance songs, and the DJ brought the house down. LL called for several people, mostly women, to come on stage to dance and proclaimed that "Little Rock rocks the house!"
The rapper introduced his last song by declaring, "Before I go, I got to go back to Cali ...." The audience went wild as he segued into "Going Back to Cali."
LL's otherwise smooth performance was marred by the overwhelming number of people who tried to squeeze in close to the stage. Fortunately, no one was trampled and no fights broke out. Let's hope that next year, the Riverfest committee will coordinate a better plan for assembling a large amount of people for a big-name concert.
— Renarda Williams
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