DEF DOINGS IN RAP ARENA : CHECK LIST: **** Great Balls of Fire, *** Good Vibrations, ** Maybe Baby, * Running on Empty : CHECK LIST: **** Great Balls of Fire, *** Good Vibrations, ** Maybe Baby, * Running on Empty

** 1/2"BIGGER AND DEFFER." L.L. Cool J. Def Jam. *"YOU'RE GONNA GET YOURS." Public Enemy. Def Jam. In peak form, L.L. Cool J can rap faster than the speed of three Beastie Boys and deliver the kind of fresh imagery that runs circles around Run-D.M.C. His 1985 debut album, "Radio," marked him as one of rap music's top talents. "Bigger and Deffer," while strong on cuts like the lewd "Kanday" and tongue-twistingly inventive on "My Rhyme Ain't Done" and "I'm Bad," is a good but not superior follow-up effort. L.L. is still his own greatest competition in the rap arena. Even when he doesn't top himself, he's still more original than most of his "bust this!" contemporaries.

But whereas L.L. Cool J can churn out the sweet, New Edition-like ditty "I Need Love," there is nothing cozy and reassuring about his labelmates, Public Enemy. This is rap to jangle the nerves and rattle the rafters, with a play-it- loud insistence. Tension permeates "Rebel Without a Pause," and the discordant rhythms are enough to set your teeth on edge. "I don't shoot bullets and I don't shoot blanks" go the lyrics on "Miuzi Weighs a Ton," a sort of gun-happy "Jailhouse Rock" for the '80s.

Occasionally this group hits on a rhythmic groove that verges on the hypnotic, but because it makes no attempt at any prettied-up, socially uplifting message it's music is limiting.

Not that L.L. Cool J offers a pretty view of the world. But there is a broader focus to his views, since he can rap about an AIDS-infected hooker who services Japanese executives at the "Bristol Hotel," or feature the revved-up guitar lines established by Chuck Berry--a seminal rock figure you wouldn't expect to interest the average rap artist--on "Go Cut Creator Go." It's that broader focus that makes him a likelier candidate for an audience outside the inner-city--a world that Public Enemy gives only one, harshly-painted view of.

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