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April 10 - LL Cool J Interview

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  • April 10 - LL Cool J Interview

    What comprises a legend? Some would say it's commitment. That one's chance at leaving a legacy hinges on the dedication to their craft and diligence in perfecting it Others say it's heart. That one's passion drives them to do whatever necessary to guide them to that supreme success. Lastly, there are those that insist legends are a player a higher powerís divine plan Ė that God's will determines destiny. According to LL Cool J, it has been all three.

    These days, most artists are lucky to get a second single, let alone drop another album. In spite of it all, James Todd Smith has defied the odds releasing the 11th installment of his recording career, aptly titled Todd Smith. The album is chock-full of cameo appearances from the likes of Mary J. Blige, Mary Mary, Ne-Yo, Freeway, Juelz Santana and Teairra Mari. Here, the self-proclaimed ďGreatest of All Time,Ē takes a moment to reflect on his career and the choices, Hip-Hopís evolution, and God's role in the continuing saga of Mr. Smith.


    AllHipHop.com: Youíre one of the longest running recording artist in Hip-Hop and thatís a fact.

    LL Cool J: You know what, Iím just a... God has blessed me. Thatís the first thing I think that, you know, recognizing a blessing is very important. Having that ability to know that youíre blessed, and knowing that God has his hand on you. When God puts his hand on something, nobody can move it, you know. So beyond that, I really donít have the answer. I donít know how Iím able to do what Iím doing. I donít have the answers. If I did, Iíd be ten times what [I am]. What I can say, just in terms of just my part in the deal so to speak, has been just to love what Iím doing, to believe in what Iím doing - to work hard and not be lazy, to not feel like I know it all and to not be afraid to take risks, to not be afraid to look foolish and look stupid. I donít have a fear of criticism.

    AllHipHop.com: Understood, can you expand on that?

    LL Cool J: Like in Hip-Hop, things that are weak - or perceived to be weak, can be strong, and the things that are perceived to be strong, can be weak. For example, letís take something like a love song. You know when I first started doing love songs, it was perceived differently by the male audience, [within] the Hip-Hop audience. [You were] Just soft or youíre emotional, whatever you want to call it. But I think that the reality is when youíre willing to expose whatís going on inside of you, and youíre willing to put your emotions out there, itís actually strong. So I think it takes a lot of courage to do different things.

    AllHipHop.com: So when you started rhyming, did you see an end in sight at all?

    LL Cool J: No, I never seen anything that had a limit to it. I kind of feel like when you started something and you start talking about, ďIím only gonna be rhyming this long,Ē and ďIím only gonna do it that long,Ē what youíre really saying is youíre gonna stop before you fall. This is not to slight any one [but] thatís really fear talking.

    AllHipHop.com: What would you consider one of those mistakes that you made?

    LL Cool J: I mean I make jillions of mistakes. Iíve spent money. Iíve you know wasted money.

    AllHipHop.com: Music wise. Any records that you think were a mistake? Or that people didnít get, that you put out there with one kind of idea and the people didnít get?

    LL Cool J: No, my art, I donít have any regrets with my art. I donít see any mistakes in my art. You know, everybodyís not gonna like everything. Thereís nothing that you can do about that. And you have to understand that. And everybodyís not gonna be your fan. And thatís okay. Itís like artists that paint paintings, you know, you just paint. Itís no regret. You know what Iím saying? You just paint.

    AllHipHop.com: Do you find it easier to create, you know your masterpieces and what not in this climate where you are in your career right now or do you think it was easier when there was no pressure?

    LL Cool J: Thereís no pressure now. There was, thereís never any pressure.

    AllHipHop.com: Never, thereís never any pressure?

    LL Cool J: No. Thereís no pressure. What is the pressure?

    AllHipHop.com: Well, pressure to succeed. Pressure to, you know produce for the label, pressure to keep career flow.

    LL Cool J: See, I understand what youíre saying. You know, I just kinda get in the zone, and operate from that place. I donít have pressure to produce for a label. What Iím supposed to do is have faith, [and] make the best product I can. I make the best music I can from the heart, and then go out and do all I can to support it. And leave it at that. If so, what pressure? I mean I donít, you know --

    AllHipHop.com: In a percentage, how much of your recording career at this point is love and how much of it is money?

    LL Cool J: Hundred percent love.

    AllHipHop.com: Really?

    LL Cool J: Absolutely. You have to love something to be with it for a long time. Look at marriages: you canít be with somebody for money forever. No matter how much you try, at some point, itís gonna just wear thin on you. Itís just gonna be difficult. The money thing is the effect. But the cause is love. You cannot tell me that Michael Jordan got as good as he got at basketball for money. You canít tell me that Kobe [Bryant] got that good for money. Like, itís no way you can get that good. Tiger Woods, you canít get that good at something without loving it. But the money will come because thatís the beauty of Godís system. Now remember, I didnít say [nice guys finish last]. You can be a nice guy, but nice guys finish last when theyíre stupid - not because theyíre nice guys.

    AllHipHop.com: Because theyíre idiots.

    LL Cool J: Right. Nice guys finish last when theyíre stupid. So I didnít say be dumb. I didnít say donít do the best deal you can. I didnít say donít ask for as much money or create and generate as much revenue as you can for your life and your family. I said love what you do.

    AllHipHop.com: What do you like and what do you not like about the game right now, in Hip-Hopís current state?

    LL Cool J: What I donít like is the fact that it seems like we canít figure out anything for our women to do but strip for us. You know, thatís no disrespect to young ladies that are going through that, because you never know why a woman does what she does, or man. So you canít judge people. But at the same time, we can lift our girls up. You know, the music can lift them up. It wouldnít hurt us. It wouldnít hurt anybody to lift them up, and to embrace them, and you know give them some love, because you got to remember that. You know itís kinda like you know weíre catering to the weakness in all of us.

    AllHipHop.com: Right.

    LL Cool J: But you know, at the same time, I respect a lot of young artists. I think that theyíre talented. I think that thereís a lot of great music out there. I think that there are a lot of people out there that are impressive for various reasons - whether itís their music, or what their accomplishments are, or their business acumen.

    AllHipHop.com: So sell me and the readers this new albumÖ

    LL Cool J: I wanted the Todd Smith record to just be a record that was displaying even more of me, the inside of me that [only] my family gets to see everyday. The side of me that grew up next door to you. The guy who loves gardens, the guy who loves his family, to be really, really honest and put together some music thatís gonna unify the community, and keep the theme. The theme of the record consistent and constantly bringing people together with the music. All different types of you know musicians and artists, different genres. But primarily you know Hip-Hop and R&B.

    AllHipHop.com: With this album, what are you trying to say?

    LL Cool J: The theme on this record is unity, just unifying. Or touching on a subject that could possible tear people apart, but if you can address them and find healing, theyíll bring you together. The Hip-Hop community and the Black community- we need to be closer. Thereís a need for more unity and the need for togetherness.

    AllHipHop.com: What do you think is tearing us apart?

    LL Cool J: I think that materialism is tearing us apart to a certain extent, because the materialism turns everything into a dog-eat-dog situation. It makes everybody like at the beginning of the hockey game, everybody going for the puck, ridiculous, with no regard for anything else thatís going on around them. Itís not the money, remember money is neutral. Itís nebulous.

    AllHipHop.com: You recently launched your clothing line, Todd Smith. You seem to be a master of all tradesÖ

    LL Cool J: No, you know what, itís a couple of things. First of all, I try to balance it and I do try to balance everything. But you know thereís certain spiritual principles at work. Like, you know I pay my tithe, you know tithing is when you give ten percent of what comes into your life economically to your local church. I take ten percent or more of my money, and give it to God and I make sure that I support His Kingdom. Thatís why if you really look at my career, it seems like timing is impeccable. But itís not because Iím so smart, and because Iím able to really map it out like that, itís because God has blessed me.

    AllHipHop.com: I just finished reading Raising Hell: The Autobiography of Run-D.M.C., And it talks a lot about the intense rivalry that you and Run had or supposedly had. Is this true and can you speak on it?

    LL Cool J: Oh yeah, yeah. Me and Run definitely Ė well, it wasnít much of a rivalry really, because when we were on tour, they were just beating me up every night. It really wasnít that much of a rivalry. I guess I was seeing the results of what he was feeling, because they were whooping me out every night. But one thing [about] going on tour, Run-D.M.C. taught me was how to perform. They taught me how to stand up against such a mega-group, every night. Itís like to be on tour with them every night for years, itís kinda like, itís almost like a boxer who spars with two people in the ring at the same time, all the time. So then when you get out there against one, itís much easier, you know. But yeah we hadÖ I remember the first time I met Run, you know I said yeah ďIím LL. I made, ďI Need A Beat.Ē Run said, ďNo, you didnít. Say the words.Ē And I rapped it for him, and he went and asked Russell [Simmons].You know, one of the great guys, I have a lot of respect for him and DMC. May Jam Master Jay rest in peace, completely and totally, that was ridiculous. But as a group, I have the utmost respect. I mean, I learned a lot from them. You know, I studied them, you know, and I just think theyíre a great group.

    AllHipHop.com: Is it true that ďPeter PiperĒ was originally ďRock the BellsĒ, the --

    LL Cool J: -- Yeah, yeah, yeah. ďPeter PiperĒ was gonna be ďRock the BellsĒ and you know, but, you know Run lifted me. You know, it makes sense donít it? ďThe Bells,Ē I was going through it, you know Rick [Rubin], I guess he felt like you know he had to do it to his little man [LL], like theyíre all sick as a dog cause it was my idea, you know, sick. But you know in Jam Master Jayís defense, he probably loved the ďMardi GrasĒ track too, because we all grew up on it, especially from that generation. We grew up with that music was the [Bob Jamesí] ďMardi GrasĒ beat. So you know, it is what it is. You know, maybe I do [ďRock the BellsĒ] anyways.

    AllHipHop.com: In the late Ď90s, you had a few freestyles on a Kay Slay ďStreet SweeperĒ mixtape, where you talked about a notorious drug dealer Alpo and you rhyme Italian. You remember that?

    LL Cool J: Yeah, yeah. At the time, like when I did the albums like Walking With A Panther, when I had all the big Cool J diamond rings and minks, and girls with champagne, Hip-Hop didnít embrace it then. But that was the street. Thatís what Alpo and them were doing. Thatís when my man Chuck and them were doing and you know thatís what [convicted drug-dealers] AZ and Rich [Porter] and all of those guys from 132th [Street in Harlem], these are all the guys that I grew up around, and thatís what they were doing, and I was doing it, I was bringing that street culture and that urban inner city New York thing to music. But they werenít ready for it. See, what Iím saying, like it wasnít until Jay-Z and Puffy and them did it, ten years later - then people were really ready for all of that.

    SOURCE
    Originally posted by midwestwitch
    If I were to find out it was you would be responsible for a teenage boy losing every ounce of a social life, cell phone, gaming consoles etc until he graduated high school and left for college.

  • #2
    Good read. Thanks
    Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans.

    Comment


    • #3
      L shoudl've quit while he was ahead...i dont' care what anybody says i still think canibus ripped ll cool j...Ls not even a factor to the game no more...i don't see why def jam still gives him a budget big enough to fit in a hype williams video...his album isn't even gonna go gold...he's garbage....he's obsolete...sucks for the pioneers of rap

      Comment


      • #4
        thanks
        "Let no man seperate what we create"
        "Makaveli 1996"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ml2niceguy
          L shoudl've quit while he was ahead...i dont' care what anybody says i still think canibus ripped ll cool j...Ls not even a factor to the game no more...i don't see why def jam still gives him a budget big enough to fit in a hype williams video...his album isn't even gonna go gold...he's garbage....he's obsolete...sucks for the pioneers of rap
          He will go gold. Platinum is a different story. Its L, he is one of the greats(despite his last few records), and is a pioneer in hip-hop. Plus, he has that lady fanbase.

          I get what you are sayin though. But he won't ever go back to spittin the way he used to.

          That interview is a good read, because he talks about real stuff.
          This won't come off my sig till the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl.(LOL) -- 9/9/2005

          ''Anyone stupid enough to be caught by the police is probably guilty.''

          Comment


          • #6
            Part 2 ..

            LL Cool J continues his revealing conversation with AllHipHop.com. Mr. Smith reflects on his newest niche in the fashion game, and gives some wise historic context to some changing trends in the Hip-Hop game. Read onÖ

            AllHipHop.com: Youíre back in the clothing game with a new lineÖ

            LL Cool J: Yeah, the Todd Smith one. This is actually my third line that Iíve been involved in. [The] first line I was involved in a long time ago was T.R.O.O.P. - many years ago, in the late Ď80ís. And the second one that I got involved with in the early Ď90s up to the late 90ís was FUBU - which Iím still one of the owners of, but which has matured. I havenít endorsed FUBU for about six or seven years because it was time for me to just go somewhere else. This is more music-related. The line is luxury. That was the risk I wanted to take. Itís very high-end, I brought the great designers I could find over, some of them from the UK, in order to help me put together the collection. Its menís and ladiesí ready-to-wear, definitely high-end, in you know on a tier, on a level of Venia, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, and Dolce & Gabbana. In that, itís all in that tier.

            AllHipHop.com: What made you decide to go that route as opposed to you know the more urban route that every other artist goes?

            LL Cool J: Because itís more of a challenge, and I wanted to build a real company and a real business. Iím not doing this clothing line for it to be an extension of my fan club. Iím doing a clothing line because I want to build a company, and because I have this creative drive in me that I canít, that I got to get out of me. No matter what Iím doing- if itís a movie, if itís music, if itís TV, if itís a fashion - I just have something inside of me that wants to build. So I want to build a company. And the way to build a real company is for me to put out a luxury brand, because thatís where my mind is at. Iím not just t-shirts and jeans anymore. This is an extension of where my mind is at. And my mind really is, you know thinking about, you know. private jets and luxury goods and you know, eating at the finest restaurants in the entire world, and dealing with the most important people in the entire world, on the entire globe. And I really do think like that. So I want the brand to represent that. Itís big.

            AllHipHop.com: You said [in Part One] that you still do Hip-Hop for love. Do you think that thereís anything thatís negative thatís brought to the game for folks who donít do it for love?

            LL Cool J: You know what, not really. Because I canít judge the people that donít do it for love. I mean, their careers will reflect that.

            AllHipHop.com: You think?

            LL Cool J: Of course. Of course they will. I mean, remember the movieís not over. The credits havenít rolled yet.

            AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like the credits are rolling anytime soon, on Hip-Hop?

            LL Cool J: No, I think every individual is a different story and a different book. Every human being is a different movie. So youíre gonna have to wait to see the end, the credits on each of these individuals that you have in mind before you can really determine what the end is. So, itís like thatís the beauty of being able to read a biography of someone that lived long ago. You can see all the mistakes and how it ended up. Because how it ends up, is not always how it looks the way it is in Chapter 7.

            AllHipHop.com: What role do you think the streets play in Hip-Hop today as opposed to early in your career?

            LLCoolJ: The streets have always beenÖ itís always been part of me. I mean, the same songs that me and my man, Shabazz would talk about on the train, and the beats that we would come up with, is the same stuff we did in the studio. So there was always a street vibe. But I think that Run-DMC ushered in the real kind of, the street corner attitude to a certain extent. I mean, there were always groups that were doing it, like Cowboy and the Furious Five were very street guys. You know, the Furious Five was more party oriented and you know a lot of their routines, when you look into ďFlash to the Beat,Ē one of their original routines, and all of that was street Hip-Hop like the Force MCís before they were Force MDís, Busy Bee, Grand Wizard Theodore, and a lot of their battles and all of that had a street vibe to it. So you know, I donít have a problem with the street thing at all.

            I think that the main thing is that you donít necessarily have to have been a drug dealer, or have to have had a drug experience in the street in order to be credible as a rapper. You know, thereís like a lot of confusion, where people get a little confused about that. You know itís really just about, you know are you nice on the mic and can you captivate the crowd and what are you, you know do you have a skill set? Whether it was performing, or freestyling, or maybe heís a little more lyrical, but he can do this, you know everybody had their thing that they do. For me, the street part itís important. My roots are important. I love the street - the positive aspects of the street. I donít like the pain. I donít like the fact that we have a lot of people who feel like they have absolutely no choice in life but to go out there and do wrong in order to succeed. I donít like that part of it. But I do love my community, and love my neighborhood, and my hood. I would never try to act like I donít, because I will never outgrow my love I have for my community. I stand on the shoulders of my community. Thatís my foundation - other than God of course. But you know, at the same time, I think the street thing can get a little over done. It can limit your creativity.

            SOURCE
            Originally posted by midwestwitch
            If I were to find out it was you would be responsible for a teenage boy losing every ounce of a social life, cell phone, gaming consoles etc until he graduated high school and left for college.

            Comment

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