EXCLUSIVE -- LL Cool J grew and evolved from a hip hop artist out of Hollis, Queens, to a Hollywood TV and movie star. But he always stayed true to hip hop culture. We'd see him backstage at concerts just hanging out with us, so when I heard he was back in New York for the summer I had to find out why. I tracked him down to a Midtown Manhattan recording studio for this exclusive interview.
The private listening party was not open to the press -- except us. LL invited up-and-coming DJs from around the world to hear some tracks from his unreleased album. Then he took a break to talk with me. He said he was quietly working on this project called "G.O.A.T. 2" (or "G2" for short), a follow-up to the 2002 album "G.O.A.T.," an acronym for "Greatest of All Time."
To many hip hop artists, fans and critics, he is the greatest M.C. Of all time and remains oh so cool year after year by staying connected to the hip hop music that launched his phenomenally successful entertainment career.
He has come a long way from his early trademark look of kangol hats and sweat suits with one leg rolled up. Now this Grammy-winning artist hosts the Grammys and stars in of one of the biggest action dramas on television ("NCIS: Los Angeles"). So it was Hollis to Hollywood, and home again to work during his summer filming hiatus. He told me it keeps him grounded.
Legendary hit maker Bimmy Antney, LL's longtime friend and producer, kept the music going while LL mingled with the DJs. LL believes he has a responsibility to help the next generation. Some of the new artists he collaborated with showed up, including battle rap champion Murda Mook.
I asked LL what it takes to succeed on so many levels for so long, decades in his case. He said you have to be true to yourself, belive in yourself, and keep your mind on your mission.
Two words you always hear about LL: real and humble. The studio we were at is near Times Square and full of tourists. He stopped for everyone who wanted to take a picture with him and get his autograph.
KDFW FOX 4
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