LL Cool J pulls out the biggest cards in his Rolodex for "Authentic" (429), his first album since leaving Def Jam Records. Eddie Van Halen provides some thunderous guitar to "We're the Greatest," while also shaking up "Not Leaving You," LL's more pop-oriented duet with Fitz and the Tantrums.

Seal's smooth hook on "Give Me Love" should help LL get back on the radio, if Monica's sultry turn on "Closer" doesn't get him there first. Chuck D., Tom Morello and Z-Trip give "Whaddup" some old-school bite, and with LL referencing both "Rock the Bells" and "Welcome to the Terrordome," he sounds like he's having a blast.





BOTTOM LINE Let's call it a comeback.