LL Cool J: Introducing Todd Smith

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 Macy’s 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: You’re presenting new line that’s

just been unveiled for the Summer and Fall?

LL Cool J: This is just in stores this month,

just arrived. It’s been five-and-a-half years in the making, and this is the

first time I’m 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 we’re in stores.

AllHipHop.com: Talk about the inspiration behind

the line, because you’ve got some really interesting hoodies and jackets.

LL Cool J: The inspiration was just my personal

life, personal tattoos, what I’ve been through as a man and as an artist. The

actual logo is an African symbol that means bravery and fearlessness, because

in life that’s what you need when you’re going after a vision. And [when you’re]

determined to make something happen in life, you have to have bravery and


Not the false bravery and fearlessness or foolish

pride or ego, I’m talking about when they [say] you can’t start your business,

when they tell you you’ll 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. That’s what we’re 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 I’m about as a fashionista, so to speak, and what

I believe in - whether it’s 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.

That’s what the brand is about.

Remember, this isn’t 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 that’s quality. Hopefully

people will appreciate it, I’m confident that they will and I think they’ll

love it.

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: There’s only so many notes on a piano

- there’s 88 keys and only so many notes, but it’s 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 that’s a plus as well. Between it being flattering on your

body, feeling good on your body, and feeling comfortable, I think that’s

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 I’m there and I think people will like it.

AllHipHop.com: Are you looking to get some of

these pieces in the movies that you’re starring in?

LL Cool J: I’m gonna wear the clothes when it’s

appropriate. I’m not gonna try to shove it down anybody’s throat, but if there’s

a character that’s from a background or in a position where he can wear Todd

Smith, I’m definitely gonna throw that Todd Smith on - whether it’s TV, movies,

music videos or whatever.

I’m gonna definitely rep my brand to the fullest

because it’s part of my lifestyle and I’m proud of it. I’m confident that

people will like it.

For more information, log on to: www.toddsmithny.com and www.myspace.com/llcoolj

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