LL Cool J Talks GRAMMYs, Kendrick Lamar and Rock Hall

By Brian Ives 

With just a few days to go before the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards, Radio.com got a few minutes with LL Cool J – hosting for the fifth straight year – to discuss this year’s edition of Music’s Biggest Night.

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 So, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s ceremony?
For me, it’s about the whole dinner: it’s not just about the appetizers, it’s not just about the hors d’oeuvres, it’s not just about the cocktails, it’s everything. I’m looking forward to the whole event. From Taylor Swift opening to… I don’t want to tell you who’s closing! The tributes to Glenn Frey with the remaining Eagles and Jackson Browne, the tribute to Lionel Richiethe tribute to B.B. KingLady Gaga and Nile Rodgers paying tribute to David Bowie, Adele, Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, the Alabama Shakes, it’s an unbelievable lineup.

As a legendary MC, I wondered what you thought of Kendrick Lamar, who leads all nominees with eleven?
I think he’s very talented, I think he’s a great performer, I think he deserves the success he’s having. He should enjoy this moment, and if he continues to stay creative and innovative, in 25 years we’ll still be talking about him. It’s all about him and what he brings to the table, creatively, as an artist. But I can tell you that right now he’s definitely crushing it, his music is great, and I’m very happy for him.

He’s a tough guy to go up against in a lyrical battle. Do you miss the days when you battled other MCs? 
Miss it? Well, I haven’t put a record out in a long time, because nobody really has anything to say because I haven’t been making music. But, you know, one day I’ll put a record out and we’ll see what happens then. I never said I wouldn’t make any more music. I just have been busy. But that being said, I’m not looking for any problems!

I’ve heard that you’re working on Greatest of All Time 2.
That’s something I’ve been thinking about, but I put that project on hold for a minute. I have been working on another record, a different one. At some point, I will put new music out. Then we’ll see what the conversation is after it’s out there. I think sometimes it’s hard for people to get their minds around an artist like myself putting new music out. They always talk about what you did in the past, they don’t realize that you can still do more in the future. But you have to prove it to them. They kind of think about you, based on what you’ve already done. When the time comes, we’ll address it, and then you’ll tell me if my jab is still sharp!

You’ve hosted the GRAMMYs four times, as well as the nomination specials, and also the Beatles tribute that they did Has this expanded your music collection, and what you listen to? 
It expands it a lot. Nowadays I listen to everything from the Dot Mob and all the battle rap, all the way to Bob Dylan, Carole King, Leonard Cohen, all the way to the Four Tops and the Temptations back down to Timbaland over to Drake and Kendrick Lamar all the way to Murda Mook. I listen to everything. I love music in general! Fred the Godson, Van Halen, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Charlie Daniels. I’m a music fan!

That love was evident on your last album, that had lots of guests. Like Eddie Van Halen! Other than you and Michael Jackson, he hasn’t guested on many people’s albums!
You know what, its funny because that last album was me doing something experimental that in the long run, twenty, thirty years from now, the world will discover, and they’ll start listening to some of those songs. But I have different ways that I do projects, I’ve done some that have been more experimental, I’ve done some that are designed to get people’s attention now. And the next record I put out won’t be as experimental, it’ll just be me just touching people right now with music. I feel good about all the musical choices I’ve made. I’ve done some songs that have turned the country upside down and put ’em in an uproar, like when me and Brad Paisley did a song that went gold, but a lot of people misunderstood it. But that’s what music is about. That’s what artists are supposed to do: challenge society and make it look at itself and make people pay attention and discuss things, and move the needle. As long as  I’m a guy who can still move the needle like that, I look forward to my next record and what I can do for the world.

N.W.A is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, what do you think about that? 
I think it’s absolutely great that they’re getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’m super happy for them. I’m also happy for Public Enemy, the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, I’m super happy for all of them. N.W.A. deserve it, they’re a powerful group with a powerful story.

Related: 5 Hip-Hop Artists Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

What other MCs should get in? feel free to include yourself.
I would accept that , but you know I recently got my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that is one of the most prestigious honors that you can get in entertainment. But I’ve been nominated for the Rock Hall before, hopefully in the future they’ll consider me worthy.

Watch the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards live on CBS Monday, February 15 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT.

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