Rembert Explains the ’80s: LL Cool J, ‘I Need Love’

Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the ’80s. Every so often, we’ll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching the video, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Rembert Browne, BECAUSE IT’S STILL BLACK HISTORY MONTH AND I’M CALLING THE SHOTS: “I Need Love” by LL Cool J. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’80s, e-mail us at

Note: Today is Valentine’s Day. — Rembert

0:02 Sick party. Probably post-prom, if I had to guess.

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0:09 This song by Future-CBS’s LL Cool J is fantastically emotional. I can’t wait to go on this journey with him.

0:11 The first four lines of this song are beyond iconic.

When I’m alone in my room
Sometimes I stare at the wall
And in the back of my mind
I hear my conscious call

0:17 Also iconic: everything about this outfit …

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Le Coq Sportif track suit, Kangol bucket, the gold rope, and the faintest turtle shell six-pack. Future-CBS’s LL Cool J was killing it.

0:20 Pour some out for Tower Records:

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Gone but not forgotten.

0:23 This is the part of the song when Future-NCIS says “giggling.”

0:26 Ladies Love CBS James.

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Leaving her all alone like that. How could you, Future-NCIS?

0:42 Oh wait, you’re right there.

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That’s even worse? (Great jersey, though.)

0:47 This is the part of the song when Future-Grammys says “amour.”

0:49 These fan girls aren’t worth it, Cool James. This one girl loves you. Never forget that. Related: You need love.

0:55 Don’t be fooled by their smiles and screams.

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Sure, they want “Cool James.” But what about just “James”?


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What say you, LL?

Cool J: “It’s real hectic, you know, interviews, girls calling me all the time —”

Posse Member 1: “Yo, L, we gotta go.”

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Cool J: “See what I mean?”

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And that’s it.

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That has to be one of the rudest, most abruptly ended interviews ever. Poor lady. She was just trying to get a scoop with her big microphone. She deserved better than that, especially with that big microphone.

1:20 Oh yes, father and daughter, smiling. So beautiful. So peaceful. Also: She has a poster of a certain rapper in the background.

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The smiles and peace were short-lived, though:

Dad: “What did I tell you about these rap guys?”

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What’s that paper he’s slinging around?

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Oh no. Someone is trying to go see a rap star, right under her father’s nose. This isn’t good. So I guess he’s not too happy about that poster, then …

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If only Pops understood that rapper LL Cool J was actually Future-NCIS. There’s no way he’s tearing down of that poster if he’s equipped with that knowledge. Oh, the future.

1:33 This is the part in the song where Future-CBS says “scratch my back” while scratching his back:

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1:37 LL is laying it on pretty thick right now. In less than 10 seconds, he’ll say he’d “lay down my jacket so you could walk over a puddle” and “pull out your chair before we eat.” A few thoughts on both of these.

  1. I know it’s Valentine’s Day, a beautiful day when love is in the air and qualities such as chivalry should be at an all-time high, but what’s more ridiculous than laying down your jacket over a small, murky, easily maneuverable body of water? Also, say the lady in question takes a step on that jacket. What happens next? It immediately becomes clear to both of you that jackets do not operate like wooden planks, and her shoes get pretty much as wet as they would have sans jacket. Also, what happens to that jacket, post jacket-walk? Do you leave it there, or do you lug around a wet puddle jacket with you en route to the restaurant? ALSO, I’ve never met a puddle that I couldn’t get around.
  2. Don’t pull out your lady’s chair, people, date time is not the occasion to play practical jokes. Sure it sounds funny on paper, the beautiful woman you’re with plummeting to the ground with the entire restaurant watching, but what happens if she gets hurt and bruises her coccyx or something. Then you’re going to have to fling her over your shoulder, carry her out of the restaurant, and walk through puddles left and right, because you can’t take your jacket off to cover them.

That’s it.

1:38 With all of that cynicism said, I think Future-NCIS really likes you, girl.

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1:45 Awwww, she’s about to go see her man.

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Not good, girl.

1:50 Oh, but LL’s looking. Someone help LL find the girl that he loves and loves him back:

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2:12 Phew. She made it.

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Bless her heart. Future-Grammys’, too.


LL: “Yo, I didn’t mean to hurt you before, know what I’m sayin’? It’s just, I live a hectic life. You know, if you come with me to Atlantic City, I’ll make it up to you, though.”


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Girl: Yes.

LL: Cool.

2:28 Look at these lovebirds, later in the car ride. So glad she didn’t respond to “you still love me or what?” with “OR WHAT.” Would have have been super awkward.

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Also worth noting: I think he’s really changed.

2:35 LL: “See what I mean? I’ve changed.”

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Told you.

2:39 LL is the first and last person to ever say the following series of words in Atlantic City:

“Friendship, trust, honor, respect, admiration.”

Congrats to him. A trailblazer in so many ways.

2:54 This is the part of the song where Future-NCIS says “my body tingles.”

3:09 I’d never noticed this before, but in a 35-second scene on that balcony, LL hugs and releases his girl seven different times.

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I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s like they were overwhelmed by passion and had to embrace, but one of them didn’t put on deodorant, so they had to temporarily pull away and get some fresh air, before the passion took over again. Shout out to passion.


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You can’t hug a girl seven times and then go hop in a woman/Andre-filled hot tub. Not seven times.

3:29 This guy disagrees:

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“Yo L, stop frontin. You know you want to get in, boy.”

I can’t tell if that’s his hair, or his Hot Tob Davy Crockett hat. Either way, while he’s extremely disrespectful in his candor, he’s not wrong. Because we all know Future-NCIS wants in. Everyone knows that.

3:36 This girl also knows what LL wants to do:

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“Come on LL, let’s have some fun.”

Also worth noting, she does it right in front of his girl.

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She needs to get back in that hot tub before she gets smacked. By his girl, not Future-NCIS.

3:39 Oh yes, the final speech:


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“Listen to me.”

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“When I be sitting in my room all alone.”

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“Staring at the wall.”

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“Fantasies, they go through my mind, and I’ve come to realize that I need true love.”

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“And if you want to give it to me girl.”

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“Make yourself seen.”

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“I’ll be waiting.”

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“I love you.”

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Happy Valentine’s Day, from your friends at Grantland, NCIS–Los Angeles, Tower Records, and Le Coq Sportif.

Filed Under: Music Videos, NCIS, Rembert Explains

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert