LL Cool J explained that the title of this song came to him when he was having trouble finding direction with his songwriting. When his grandmother heard about his stuggle, she gave him the simple advice to "knock them out," hence the song title.
Suggestion credit: Brian - Edmonton, Canada
The beat came courtesy of LL Cool J's producer Marley Marl. LL wrote the lyrics about staying on top of the rap game. It was one of the first rap hits to use lots of artillery imagery, with bombs, shotguns and a 9mm pistol showing up in the rather bellicose lyric.
LL's lyrics are purely metaphorical, but around this time real violence within the hip-hop community was becoming a major problem. With the rise of "gangsta" rap, similar lyrics were often far more literal, depicting real-life events and credible threats.
This won the Grammy award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
LL Cool J pulled off a memorable performance of this song when he appeared on a Season 2 episode of MTV Unplugged in 1991 that also featured De La Soul, MC Lyte and A Tribe Called Quest. After doing a silky, mellow version of "Jinglin' Baby," he took off his shirt and blasted into "Mama Said Knock You Out," proving that electricity was not essential to his success. MTV replayed the clip many times, and each time LL's white deodorant was on display every time he lifted his arms.
The metal band Scatterbrain did a version of this song that appeared in the 1992 Pauly Shore movie Encino Man. It got another metal makeover in 2013 when Five Finger Death Punch covered the song.
The variety show In Living Color did a parody of this song, but slung no arrows at LL Cool J. Instead, it is sung by Jimmy Walker (portrayed by Shawn Wayans), star of the '70s sitcom Good Times, as "Mama's Gonna Kick Me Out." The first lines:
I need to make a comeback I ain't worked in years
Tennis star Serena Williams softly recites the lyrics in a commercial for JPMorgan Chase that debuted at the 2018 US Open tournament. Williams had a baby the previous year and returned to the court in may, thus the "mama" connection.
Andre from Porto, PortugalFive Finger Death Punch covered this song on their album "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1", featuring rapper Tech N9ne
Matthew from Milford, Ma...Is it just me, or does this song fit Knuckles the Echidna to a tee?
Erik from Bloomfield Hills, MiMost radio stations played a version of the song that omits the last verse (the part where he's talking about killing people).
Jason from Boulder, CoL.L. wrote this song drunk out of his mind on Olde English 800. This is true, and evidenced by his sloppy phrasing, simple rhyme schemes and the lyric "Olde English filled my mind / And I came up with the funky rhyme".
Dale from Henderson, KyDon't you love how L.L. talks about bombing towns, slaying people,shotgun ready to blast and how his "nine is easy to load" in this song and then goes on to thank God for all of it...WHAT THA???? No wonder Moe Dee kills him lyrically.
Chris from Auckland, New ZealandPunk band Lagwagon did a pariody of this song which goes by the same name, has different lyrics and is shorter. Its the closing number for their 1994 album "Trashed"
Andrew from Glamorgan , United Stateswill smith used the line 'mama said knock you out!' in an episode of the fresh prince of bel air when he was losing 2 a girl at boxing. not that anybody cares, but still.