May 24, 2016 @ 3:29 PM
He’s not just the host of Spike’s incredible Lip Sync Battle and the 2,571st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a critical character on NCIS: Los Angeles and a two-time Grammy Award winner (and five-time host!). And he’s not just the thousand other adjectives so easily plucked from the bromide bin to describe him, from elder statesman of hip-hop to movie star, author and philanthropist.
No, LL COOL J is so much more than that.
As a group of Viacom employees found out when the man who laughingly estimates that he is booked “20 years out” sliced a bit of time from his schedule to visit our offices in Times Square on a recent Wednesday. In a nearly hour-long conversation with Spike President Kevin Kay, the man who launched off the New York streets more than three decades ago by tracking Rick Rubin to his NYU dorm room with a demo tape riffed in an incisive, passionate, often hilarious and always genuine manner. Watching him banter with Kay and the audience, it’s not hard to imagine how the man who dubbed himself “Ladies Love Cool J” out of “wishful thinking” willed his way to success in so many ways.
Here, just a couple highlights from his conversation. Watch the video to see the rest. It’s well worth your time.
On early hip-hop’s influence on him: “There was something about hearing these young men that was so empowering… It attracted me to the music, it attracted me to the culture. Hip-hop is a funny art form, because to me, what I learned being raised at home, is all of the cockiness, all of the arrogance, all of the showmanship is for the song. So tomorrow, if I made an album, it would be probably the cockiest, most arrogant, craziest thing you’ve ever heard in your life, but then, when you get away from that, my mother taught me how to be human and to be normal, and to respect people and to have manners, wipe my feet on the mat before I walk in and say hello to somebody’s mother like I have some sense. I fell in love with the whole idea of being strong. When you grow up in somewhere like Queens, you just want to matter. I just wanted to matter.”