LL Cool J: Nice Guys Finish First: Part Two


Cool J continues his revealing conversation with AllHipHop.com. Mr. Smith reflects on his newest niche in the fashion game, and gives some wise historic context to some changing trends in the Hip-Hop game. Read on…

AllHipHop.com: You’re back in the clothing game with a new line…

LL Cool J: Yeah, the Todd Smith one. This is actually my third line that I’ve been involved in. [The] first line I was involved in a long time ago was T.R.O.O.P. - many years ago, in the late ‘80’s. And the second one that I got involved with in the early ‘90s up to the late 90’s was FUBU - which I’m still one of the owners of, but which has matured. I haven’t endorsed FUBU for about six or seven years because it was time for me to just go somewhere else. This is more music-related. The line is luxury. That was the risk I wanted to take. It’s very high-end, I brought the great designers I could find over, some of them from the UK, in order to help me put together the collection. Its men’s and ladies’ ready-to-wear, definitely high-end, in you know on a tier, on a level of Venia, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, and Dolce & Gabbana. In that, it’s all in that tier.

AllHipHop.com: What made you decide to go that route as opposed to you know the more urban route that every other artist goes?

LL Cool J: Because it’s more of a challenge, and I wanted to build a real company and a real business. I’m not doing this clothing line for it to be an extension of my fan club. I’m doing a clothing line because I want to build a company, and because I have this creative drive in me that I can’t, that I got to get out of me. No matter what I’m doing- if it’s a movie, if it’s music, if it’s TV, if it’s a fashion - I just have something inside of me that wants to build. So I want to build a company. And the way to build a real company is for me to put out a luxury brand, because that’s where my mind is at. I’m not just t-shirts and jeans anymore. This is an extension of where my mind is at. And my mind really is, you know thinking about, you know. private jets and luxury goods and you know, eating at the finest restaurants in the entire world, and dealing with the most important people in the entire world, on the entire globe. And I really do think like that. So I want the brand to represent that. It’s big.

AllHipHop.com: You said [in Part One] that you still do Hip-Hop for love. Do you think that there’s anything that’s negative that’s brought to the game for folks who don’t do it for love?

LL Cool J: You know what, not really. Because I can’t judge the people that don’t do it for love. I mean, their careers will reflect that.

AllHipHop.com: You think?

LL Cool J: Of course. Of course they will. I mean, remember the movie’s not over. The credits haven’t rolled yet.

AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like the credits are rolling anytime soon, on Hip-Hop?

LL Cool J: No, I think every individual is a different story and a different book. Every human being is a different movie. So you’re gonna have to wait to see the end, the credits on each of these individuals that you have in mind before you can really determine what the end is. So, it’s like that’s the beauty of being able to read a biography of someone that lived long ago. You can see all the mistakes and how it ended up. Because how it ends up, is not always how it looks the way it is in Chapter 7.

AllHipHop.com: What role do you think the streets play in Hip-Hop today as opposed to early in your career?

LLCoolJ: The streets have always been… it’s always been part of me. I mean, the same songs that me and my man, Shabazz would talk about on the train, and the beats that we would come up with, is the same stuff we did in the studio. So there was always a street vibe. But I think that Run-DMC ushered in the real kind of, the street corner attitude to a certain extent. I mean, there were always groups that were doing it, like Cowboy and the Furious Five were very street guys. You know, the Furious Five was more party oriented and you know a lot of their routines, when you look into “Flash to the Beat,” one of their original routines, and all of that was street Hip-Hop like the Force MC’s before they were Force MD’s, Busy Bee, Grand Wizard Theodore, and a lot of their battles and all of that had a street vibe to it. So you know, I don’t have a problem with the street thing at all.

I think that the main thing is that you don’t necessarily have to have been a drug dealer, or have to have had a drug experience in the street in order to be credible as a rapper. You know, there’s like a lot of confusion, where people get a little confused about that. You know it’s really just about, you know are you nice on the mic and can you captivate the crowd and what are you, you know do you have a skill set? Whether it was performing, or freestyling, or maybe he’s a little more lyrical, but he can do this, you know everybody had their thing that they do. For me, the street part it’s important. My roots are important. I love the street - the positive aspects of the street. I don’t like the pain. I don’t like the fact that we have a lot of people who feel like they have absolutely no choice in life but to go out there and do wrong in order to succeed. I don’t like that part of it. But I do love my community, and love my neighborhood, and my hood. I would never try to act like I don’t, because I will never outgrow my love I have for my community. I stand on the shoulders of my community. That’s my foundation - other than God of course. But you know, at the same time, I think the street thing can get a little over done. It can limit your creativity.