“I never could have predicted that I’d still be rocking the mic more than two decades after my debut, but here I am,” LL Cool J says with a smile.
Here he is indeed. Nearly 25 years since he first burst onto the scene, LL Cool J continues his vibrant, trailblazing career with the release of EXIT 13, his appropriately titled 13th album for the only label he has called home – Def Jam Recordings.
LL Cool J – “Baby” featuring The Dream:
EXIT 13 is a study in contrast and showcases LL Cool J’s duality. “Depending on my mood, I can be aggressive, explosive and in-your-face, or alternately suave, smooth and sensual. It’s no secret that I like making love songs as much as I like to lay down rhymes,” commented LL. With a career chock full of both and a new album packed with collaborators as diverse as 50 Cent, Wyclef Jean, Richie Sambora and The Dream, and producers such as Suits, DJ Scratch, Ilfonics and Raw Uncut, EXIT 13 is the album LL Cool J fans have been clamoring for — full of passion, braggadocio and smooth rhymes. “When it came time for me to go into the studio, I tried to make this project as relevant as my first, and having that sense of my career coming full circle. Believe me, it was a blessing to be able to go back into the studio and create this album.”
Joining forces with 50 Cent on a track called “Heartbeat,” the two Queens natives rap over a stripped down track, while sounding like they are having a good time. “It’s a song about role playing,” says LL of “Heartbeat.” On the tracks “Rocking With The Goat,” LL taps into his native New Yorker persona, and teams with labelmates The Dream on EXIT 13’s first single “Baby.” The track, which recently debuted on the Billboard charts, marks LL’s 42nd career chart debut.
What began for LL Cool J in the nascent, burgeoning rap and hip hop scene of the 80’s, has now seeped throughout the musical and cultural phenomenon that is today’s hip hop. All the while, LL Cool J has remained a musical and cultural force, a living icon and a significant, relevant artist still churning out the hits. First introduced to the world in 1984 as a Def Jam Records flagship artist, LL is the first rap artist to amass ten consecutive platinum-plus selling albums, while 2004’s “THE DEFinition” and 2006’s “Todd Smith” both went Gold. He is currently tied for third place for most Billboard chart debuts by a rapper.
As an entertainer, he has succeeded in crossing into multiple mediums. Already a talented actor, author, recording artist, two-time Grammy Award winner and NAACP Image Award winner, LL continues to display his wide range of talents in his projects.
He recently inked an exclusive deal with Sears, Roebuck to brand an affordable clothing line that will appeal to families. A focal point of Sears own re-branding efforts, LL’s merchandise is slated to hit stores in time for back to school. “The clothes are fashion forward, and I’m using my whole family in the ad campaign.”