Radio is the debut album of American rapper LL Cool J, released November 18, 1985 on Def Jam Recordings in the United States. It serves as the label’s first full-length album release. Recording sessions for the album took place during 1984 to 1985 at Chung King House of Metal in New York City. The album was primarily produced by Rick Rubin, who provided a sparse and minimal production style. Radio also features a sound that is punctuated by DJ scratching, mostly brief samples, and emphasis of the downbeat. LL Cool J’s b-boy lyricism conveys themes of inner city culture, teenage promiscuity, and braggadocio raps.
The album experienced a significant amount of commercial success and sales for a hip hop record at the time, earning U.S. Billboard chart success and selling over 500,000 copies within its first five months of release. On April 19, 1989, Radio was certified platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), following sales in excess of one million copies in the United States. Initial criticism of the album was generally positive, as LL Cool J’s lyricism and Rick Rubin’s production were praised by several music critics. It has since been recognized by critics as LL Cool J’s greatest work.
Reflecting the new school and ghettoblaster subculture in the U.S. during the mid-1980s, Radio belongs to a pivotal moment in the history and culture of hip hop. Its success contributed to the displacement of the old school with the new school form and to the genre’s mainstream success during the period. Its success also served as a career breakthrough for LL Cool J and Rick Rubin. Radio has been recognized by music writers as one of the first cohesive and commercially successful hip hop albums.