Take your time, do it right. If LL Cool J could
have a motto, this might possibly be it. A recording artist over two decades strong,
an author, entrepreneur, husband and father, LL is also one of the foremost
fashion icons in Hip Hop.
LL set many trends early in his career and
inspired droves of people to follow his lead - not only through his unrelenting
musical prowess, but through his cutting edge taste in clothes and accessories.
From Kangol caps to gold dookie ropes and leather pants, he made even the most
flash-in-the-pan fashion items look good.
As flurries of Hip Hop artists have raced to put
out trendy clothing lines (many looking too much like the next), LL took his
time to develop and carefully present his own quality line, Todd Smith. As he
began early communications with the fashion industry about his brand in 2007,
retailers eagerly put in their orders for the first production. Today, Todd
Smith apparel is available at select Macys and specialty shops.
To the delight of his fans, LL is kicking off his
official launch of Todd Smith with several in-store events nationwide. We
caught up with the always stylish Uncle L at his booth at the MAGIC Convention
in Vegas to discuss his philosophy behind the new designs, and his thoughts on
being one of the true fashion leaders of our day.
AllHipHop.com: Youre presenting new line thats
just been unveiled for the Summer and Fall?
LL Cool J: This is just in stores this month,
just arrived. Its been five-and-a-half years in the making, and this is the
first time Im actually in stores. People have been hearing me talking about
the [Todd Smith] line for years, and one thing about me [is] if I talk about
something I do it. It may take time because I like to do it right, but I was
patient and determined. Now were in stores.
AllHipHop.com: Talk about the inspiration behind
the line, because youve got some really interesting hoodies and jackets.
LL Cool J: The inspiration was just my personal
life, personal tattoos, what Ive been through as a man and as an artist. The
actual logo is an African symbol that means bravery and fearlessness, because
in life thats what you need when youre going after a vision. And [when youre]
determined to make something happen in life, you have to have bravery and
Not the false bravery and fearlessness or foolish
pride or ego, Im talking about when they [say] you cant start your business,
when they tell you youll never make it as an artist or executive, when they
tell you things that are negative in that respect, that kind of bravery and
fearlessness in the face of adversity. Thats what were doing.
AllHipHop.com: Over the years, what are some of
the fashions that you feel were the strongest, and what are some that you hated
and could not believe you wore?
LL Cool J: The Kangol was definitely a high
point, Troop I think was a little bit quicker, FUBU was a high point for me, I
still own a piece of that. Then it got to the point where I needed to be able
to express myself as an artist and have a little more input and control
creatively about the direction of the brand and how it was treated and
So I think Todd Smith is kind of the right way
for me to show the world what Im about as a fashionista, so to speak, and what
I believe in - whether its rolling my pants leg up like I did on my show [In The House], and kind of influencing
the world to do that, or whatever it is. Now here we are with the Todd Smith
brand. I want people to feel like a star when they wear the brand. When
somebody puts my brand on I want you to feel like a celebrity, like a
superstar. Be sexy. Be fly, feel fly, look fly, feel like you can do anything.
Thats what the brand is about.
Remember, this isnt some fly by night thing.
This is as established and as entrenched as my career is, because I put all of
my energy into trying to put something out there thats quality. Hopefully
people will appreciate it, Im confident that they will and I think theyll
AllHipHop.com: You have some rock inspired gear
here. That seems to be the trend right now. What sets Todd Smith apart from
other brands that are doing that?
LL Cool J: Theres only so many notes on a piano
- theres 88 keys and only so many notes, but its the song that you create. I
think our embellishments, the way we use the studs, the way we do the acid
wash, the burnout tees, the way we use the rhinestones, the foiling, the way we
do some of the overlayering and the combinations of fabrics, I think it makes
it interesting and flavorful.
Then after that, it feels good on your body and
it fits well, and thats a plus as well. Between it being flattering on your
body, feeling good on your body, and feeling comfortable, I think thats
enough. I know how I wanna look, and the challenge was to make something that
people could afford and that I felt proud wearing. It took me a minute to get
there, but Im there and I think people will like it.
AllHipHop.com: Are you looking to get some of
these pieces in the movies that youre starring in?
LL Cool J: Im gonna wear the clothes when its
appropriate. Im not gonna try to shove it down anybodys throat, but if theres
a character thats from a background or in a position where he can wear Todd
Smith, Im definitely gonna throw that Todd Smith on - whether its TV, movies,
music videos or whatever.
Im gonna definitely rep my brand to the fullest
because its part of my lifestyle and Im proud of it. Im confident that
people will like it.
Meet Todd Smith at Macy's!
March 1 Miami, FL @ Macy's Adventura, Adventura
Mall, 2- 4 PM
March 8 Los Angeles, CA @ Macy's Fox Hills, Fox
Hills Mall, 2-4 PM
April 5 St. Louis, MO @ Macy's St. Louis,
Galleria Mall, 2-4 PM
LL with a young fan at Atlanta's Lenox Mall Macy's on February 23Photo by Isis