Music: Hip-Hop Grownup

After nearly two decades as a rapper, LL Cool J is maturing in a genre that usually devours its elders

In an art form in which even an adolescent, Lil Bow Wow, 15, has to worry about overstaying his welcome (he recently dropped the Lil in hopes of fashioning a fresh image), LL Cool J, 34, is a bona fide curiosity: the world's oldest living rapper. It has been nearly two decades since he debuted as a baby-faced teen in Krush Groove and a dozen years since he declared himself still relevant ("Don't call it a comeback/I've been here for years!") on Mama Said Knock You Out. But on Oct. 15, LL will reach an unprecedented hip-hop milestone when he releases...

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