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The Greatest of All Time – Part 4 of 5

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on July 31, 2008

LL Cool J is easily one of the most important rappers around because he’s been active since the early days of hip-hop’s commercial success. Read his thoughts on maturing in the game, what he says is his best work and the keys to his successful marriage.

THAT’S MY JAM: Now you’ve worked with a ton of different artists over your career and we’re wondering who’s been your favorite and if there is anybody that you haven’t worked with yet that you want to?
LL COOL J: Favorite collaboration ― wow. I had a lot of fun working with Marley Marl. That was a long, long time ago, but it was significant and we did have a good time. I had a lot of fun working on the Mr. Smith album and I had a lot of fun working on this record. There’s no particular artist in general, but I think Marley, we had a good time on that. Making my second album was fun, too. And this record. Like, some albums I had a lot of fun on. This album I had a lot of fun on. First album I was just so happy to be in the game that it was fun by default [laughs]. I’m Bad album I had a great time making, Mama I had a great time making, Mr. Smith I had a great time making and this record I had a great time making. I think the music sounds better when I’m having fun, when I’m not taking it too seriously, when I’m not trying to prove I’m better than anyone in terms of my heart of hearts. Not that I’m not competitive, if you understand what I mean, when I’m just focused on making great music.

OK, that makes sense. You recently announced that you were going to have a new clothing line coming out at Sears and I was wondering why there and not a more high-end retailer?
I’m so glad you asked me that. See, what people have to understand is me making a pair of LL Cool J jeans that cost $5,000 isn’t going to do anything but impress my rich friends, and we can stand in the club and we can drink $500 bottles of champagne and talk about my clothing line that appears to be so sexy and hot because it’s $5,000 for a pair of jeans. But the reality is that growing up in America, people are not making $10 million a month, you know what I’m saying? People are not ― the average American, less than 10 percent of America, has ever spent over $100 for jeans. So for me, to create a line called LL Cool J for the whole family ― men, women, boys and girls ― and then take that brand and present that brand to real people who are looking for something that’s a little bit more fashion forward, who are looking for the type of styles that me and my friends wear when we’re in those expensive, high-end V.I.P. rooms, but giving it to them at affordable prices, is the coolest thing in the world to me because there are a lot of people in America whose tax return is the biggest check they’ll see all year and who are at the gas pump pulling their hair out. So, when LL Cool J does a deal with Sears, I’m giving it for the people who recognize that brand, a brand that they can trust at a price that’s affordable, and I can’t think of anything cooler than that. With all due respect, I’m not Ralph Lauren, my name is LL Cool J. I don’t have to take on ― and this is not to say that he does ― but I don’t have to try be elitist in order to be accepted by a certain circle of people who just want to put me on a pedestal financially in terms of how I carry myself and say that I’m not supposed to hobnob or be associated with normal people. I just don’t have a problem with it, you know what I’m saying? And I think that we kind of have to get our minds right because a lot of people who are in the entertainment business, who are in the cutting-edge journalism business, who are a little bit more into marketing and all that, I think they get a little caught up in the fantasy and forget that there are people out there that live real lives. There are people that work in the post office. Like, people forget that there are guys that work at Dunkin Donuts, that’s their main job, that’s how they support their family, they shop at Sears ― they’re alive, they exist. So, just because I’m LL Cool J and I have Grammys and platinum albums and fancy cars doesn’t mean I have to do a joint venture with Gucci or else I’m not cool. I’m making this cool. I’m saying it’s cool because I think it’s cool to service the real people out there.

OK. Good answer. Maybe you could make a high-end chapstick, though, I mean ―

[Laughs] A high-end chapstick would be good and all that. I’m charging $95.

And there are people that would buy that, too.

You said most people would buy it? [laughs]

I mean, I go by some high schools ― I see those little boys licking their lips like you trying to get those little girls.
[Laughs] But you know what, man, like the Todd Smith brand, which is separate from the LL Cool J brand, it will be a little more upscale and it’ll go a little more upscale. But the reality for me is that I can make ― look, let’s keep it real. The Sears deal I did is a huge deal, it’s 450 doors, expanding to 600. It’s not about overcharging people, I just don’t want to do that, unless it’s something exclusive with Todd Smith and I decide I want to make some $1,000 jeans for my rich friends to go and buy, then we can rub shoulders in the club, but other than that, I want to keep it real on another level, that’s just me.

Come back tomorrow for part five of “The Greatest of All Time.”

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