Despite being the poster child for longevity in hip-hop, LL Cool J always has and probably always will be considered an underdog. After churning out albums jeweled with hit songs for the better part of 28 years, his latest album “Authentic” was released to little mainstream fanfare and to date has only sold about 26,000 copies. That might have something to do with the fact he caught lots of flack for his collaboration with country star Brad Paisley called “Accidental Racist.” However, the backlash he suffered through hasn’t affected the man known as Uncle L. He’s still the polite yet cocky person we met on “I’m Bad” –just with a lot more experience. And when you’ve gone through some of the things LL has, you have a right to be as politely arrogant as you damn well please.
The Urban Daily got a chance to chop it up with the legendary Queens, NY native when we ran into him at the Bing’s “Bing It On” Father’s Day Event in New York City. LL Cool J is the celebrity spokesperson for Microsoft’s search engine tool. We literally only had three minutes to talk to the G.O.A.T. about how fans are reacting to his tour, the mixed reviews he’s getting about his album and how the game has changed since he got his start as a 16-year-old track suit wearing kid from Farmers Blvd.
TUD: How’s your “King of the Mic” tour featuring Ice Cube, De La Soul, and Public Enemy going?
LL: It’s going real good. It’s so exciting being back on the road. The response from the people is so crazy. I mean, it’s unbelievable. If you go on my Facebook, you can see the pictures. Like, I got the pictures to document it. I’m not just saying it. It’s unbelievable! It’s crazy!
What has been the response to your latest album “Authentic”?
The response is mixed. The people who are a little more progressive and into actual art, for real, love it. The people who just want pure street, gutter music, aren’t in love with it. It’s just not on their wavelength. But that’s to be expected. You gotta do what you love to do and you gotta be willing to challenge your audience. I promise you they may not get it now, but some of them three, four, five years from now will get it. I promise you, you’ll hear other rap artists imitating what I did. Maybe they’ll dumb it down or do it in a way that people can relate to and then people will get it. And that’s all the art is for. I’m not making music for a living. I’m making music for the love. So I feel good about it.
If you weren’t LL Cool J, never became a rapper and were just regular James Todd Smith chilling on the couch, what rappers out now would make you want to be a rapper?
There is not a rapper in this game that would make me want to rap right now. [laughs]
How has the rap game changed since you got in it?
You want the real truth? Most of the rappers can’t rap. They just have hot songs and great choruses, but they can’t rap. Let’s be real. Think about it, if you did a record like “The Symphony” and took verses from the greats and put them all on a record with some of the people who’ve blown up, it’s apples and oranges. You can’t even compare because it comes from a different place. I’m not saying its wrong. I’m just saying it’s not…I mean, listen to what I did on the Action Bronson remix and you can take that and put that on “The Symphony” with [Big Daddy] Kane and [Kool] G Rap. You can take that and out it on “Flava In Ya Ear” with Big and Craig Mack. You can put that anywhere and it will work.
As an artist who’s traveled around the world, sold millions of albums, and won Grammys, how do you remain connected to the audiences who haven’t seen and experienced the world the same way you have?
That is the biggest challenge. I guess sometimes you just gotta take it there. I just did a remix with Action Bronson and Lloyd Banks which really is connecting with people. It’s the “Strictly For My Jeeps (Queens Day Remix)” joint. Cats are feeling that. It’s that old saying, “If you did then what you’re doing now, would you be here now?” Sometimes you kinda have to look at that. But you know, one for them, one for me. The album was for me and the Action Bronson remix is for them.
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