Exclusive GRAMMY.com Interview: LL Cool J

GRAMMY-winning hip-hop icon details the collaborations on his new studio album, Authentic
May 08, 2013 -- 10:15 am PDT

Two-time GRAMMY winner and GRAMMY Awards telecast host LL Cool J recently sat down with GRAMMY.com for an exclusive interview regarding his new studio album, Authentic. LL Cool J discussed his creative goals for the album and collaborations with artists such as Seal, Snoop Dogg and Eddie Van Halen, among others.

"Being a part of the GRAMMYs rekindled my love for music and also showed me how much I love other genres, and not just hip-hop," said LL Cool J. "What I wanted to do was make a true expression of where I'm at as a human being and as an artist, and of my soul at this point in my life. … I know for a fact that no one from my genre has ever done a record like this before."

LL Cool J rose to hip-hop icon status on the strength of hits such as "I Need Love," "Around The Way Girl" and GRAMMY winners "Mama Said Knock You Out" and "Hey Lover." He has scored nine Top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 throughout his career, including Bigger And Deffer (1987, No. 3), Phenomenon (1997, No. 7), G.O.A.T. Featuring James T. Smith The Greatest Of All Time (2000, No. 1), and Todd Smith (2006, No. 6). In the past decade LL Cool J has charted  additional Top 40 hits such as the GRAMMY-nominated "Luv U Better," "Headsprung," "Paradise," "Control Myself," and "All I Have," the latter a collaboration with Jennifer Lopez that topped the Billboard Hot 100. His most recent studio album was 2008's Exit 13, which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the rap hit "Baby" featuring The-Dream.

Branching out into acting, LL Cool J has appeared in more than 30 films and currently stars in the popular CBS crime drama "NCIS: Los Angeles." He has hosted the GRAMMY Awards telecast for the past two years, in addition to hosting "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!" since its inception in 2008.

Released April 30, Authentic features an eclectic mix of hip-hop anthems, club jams and ballads. The album includes collaborations with Babyface; Travis Barker; Bootsy Collins; Chuck D, Earth, Wind & Fire; Fitz & The Tantrums; Monica; Tom Morello; Brad Paisley; Seal; Snoop Dogg; Eddie Van Halen; and Charlie Wilson. LL Cool J performed the album's debut single "Whaddup" on the 55th GRAMMY Award telecast, teaming with Barker, Chuck D, Morello, and DJ Z-Trip. Authentic debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Rap Albums chart and also debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard 200.

In support of Authentic, LL Cool J will headline the Kings of the Mic tour, featuring Ice Cube and Public Enemy. The tour kicks off May 23 in Tucson, Ariz. LL Cool J will perform on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on May 10.

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