Mama Said Knock You Out (song)

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"Mama Said Knock You Out"
Single by LL Cool J
from the album Mama Said Knock You Out
ReleasedFebruary 26, 1991 (1991-02-26)
GenreGolden age hip hop
Length4:50 (album version)
Producer(s)Marley Marl
LL Cool J singles chronology
"Around the Way Girl"
"Mama Said Knock You Out"
Music video
"Mama Said Knock You Out" on YouTube

"Mama Said Knock You Out" is a song by American rapper and actor LL Cool J, released in February 1991 as the fourth single from his fourth studio album of the same name (1990). The song famously begins with the line, "Don't call it a comeback/I been here for years." Before "Mama Said Knock You Out" was released, many people felt that LL Cool J's career was waning; his grandmother, who still believed in his talent, told him to "knock out" all his critics.[1] The song was produced by Marley Marl[2] with help from DJ Bobcat along with LL. The single reached number 17[3] on the Billboard Hot 100, was certified Platinum by the RIAA, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The song takes various shots at Kool Moe Dee.


The song uses samples from James Brown's "Funky Drummer", the Chicago Gangsters' "Gangster Boogie", Sly & The Family Stone's "Trip to Your Heart", the drum break from Sly & the Family Stone's Sing a Simple Song, and LL Cool J's own "Rock the Bells" (from his debut album Radio). The music video features LL Cool J in a boxing ring, rapping into the announcer's microphone. Intercut with this are clips of boxing matches and LL Cool J exercising.

LL Cool J said in his autobiography that the idea for the song came from a discussion with his grandmother. He had said to his grandmother that he felt that he couldn't survive as a rapper now that gangsta rap was popular and he was being dissed by several up-and-coming rappers. LL's grandmother responded, "Oh baby, just knock them out!"[4] She is featured in the closing scene of the music video, saying "Todd! Todd! Get upstairs and take out that garbage."

Critical reception[edit]

Jon Wilde from Melody Maker said in his review of the single, "It is rather gratifying to see this arrogant, obnoxious young feller struggling hopelessly to resurrect his career. The Roy Kinnear of the rap scene returns with more of the same bilious rubbish. Nice hat though."[5] David Quantick from NME wrote, "'Mama Said Knock You Out' demands that we 'don't call it a comeback'. I don't think we need go as far as that."[6] Another editor, Paolo Hewitt, felt the track is "a vicious and exhilarating display of the man's talents."[7] David Fricke from Rolling Stone remarked that the rapper "obliges big time with producer Marley Marl's steely, stripped-back beats and his own verbal fisticuffs" on "the super-slammin'" track.[8]


Rolling Stone ranked the song 29th on a 2012 list of the "50 Greatest Hip Hop Songs of All Time".[9]

Bob Dylan played it in the final slot of the "Mothers" episode of Season 1 of Theme Time Radio Hour in 2006. Dylan noted the song was "in the same tradition as the Dozens" and recited the first verse before playing it.[10]

The animated film Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.! featured a rendition of LL Cool J's single "Mama Said Knock You Out" during the dream boxing scene where Jackie Legs (voiced by Jeff Bennett) faces a heavyweight boxer named Killer Putulski (voiced by Keith Diamond).


Chart (1990) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[11] 41
Chart (1991) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 37
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[13] 47
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 17
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[15] 7
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[16] 12
US Rap Singles (Billboard)[17] 1


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[18] Silver 200,000
United States (RIAA)[19] Platinum 1,000,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Five Finger Death Punch version[edit]

"Mama Said Knock You Out"
Single by Five Finger Death Punch featuring Tech N9ne
from the album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1
ReleasedMarch 25, 2014 (2014-03-25)
Recorded2012 (2012)–13 (13)
Length2:48 (album version)
LabelProspect Park
Five Finger Death Punch singles chronology
"House of the Rising Sun"
"Mama Said Knock You Out"
"Wrong Side of Heaven"

American heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch covered the song for their fourth studio album, The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1. The cover features rapper Tech N9ne.[20] The single was released on March 25, 2014 by Prospect Park Records.


  1. ^ LaGrave, Katherine (August 21, 2015). "Why LL Cool J's Most Famous Album Almost Never Happened". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  2. ^ Pareles, Jon (November 18, 1990). "HOME ENTERTAINMENT/RECORDINGS: RECENT RELEASES". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  3. ^ "Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J Song Information". Billboard. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  4. ^ LL Cool J (1998). I Make My Own Rules. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 134–135. ISBN 9780312967314.
  5. ^ Wilde, Jon (November 24, 1990). "Singles". Melody Maker. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  6. ^ Quantick, David (November 24, 1990). "Singles". NME. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  7. ^ Hewitt, Paolo (September 22, 1990). "Long Play". NME. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  8. ^ Fricke, David (December 12, 1991-December 26, 1991). "The year in records". Rolling Stone. Issue 619/620.
  9. ^ "50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2021-04-22.
  10. ^ "Episode 2: Mothers". Theme Time Radio Hour Archive. Retrieved 2021-04-22.
  11. ^ "LL Cool J: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  12. ^ "LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  13. ^ "LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  14. ^ "LL Cool J Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  15. ^ "LL Cool J Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  16. ^ "LL Cool J Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  17. ^ "LL Cool J > Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  18. ^ "British single certifications – LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 26, 2023.
  19. ^ "American single certifications – L.L. Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  20. ^ Tobbe (May 30, 2013). "Interview with Five Finger Death Punch's Zoltán Báthory". Metal Covenant. Retrieved June 3, 2013. We had an idea to cover Mama Said Knock You Out. [...] Then we made the song heavy and when Tech N9ne came it, we thought 'Oh yeah, this is happening. Fuck it, Let's put it on the record.'

External links[edit]