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Interview: LL Cool J Breaks Down His ‘Authentic’ Collabs, From Van Halen To Paisley

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Chuck D and LL at the 2013 GRAMMYs. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

Chuck D and LL at the 2013 GRAMMYs. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

Brian Ives
Brian Ives
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LL Cool J has spent as much time in front of the camera as he has in the recording studio in the last decade, but first and foremost, he’s known for dropping some killer verses.

Hosting the GRAMMYs has shown his MC preeminence outside the hip-hop world, but now LL’s returning his focus to music. His 13th album, Authentic, finds him working with some of the biggest names in music, across all genres. He previewed some of his collaborators during his GRAMMY performance this year, with Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Travis Barker of Blink-182 and Chuck D of Public Enemy joining him onstage for new song “Whaddup.”

Still, there’s more to come in the special guest department. Guitar god Eddie Van Halen, country superstar Brad Paisley and funk legend Bootsy Collins will also appear on Authentic, out April 30. “It’s not like, ‘Oh the country meets the rapper and it’s a hoedown!'” LL joked of his song with Paisley, titled “Accidental Racist.”

On May 24th, not even a month after the album drops, LL will embark on his Kings Of The Mic Tour alongside Public Enemy, Ice Cube and De La Soul. “I just got tired of sitting in meetings and listening to people tell me why I gotta have whoever the new young rapper is on my tour because that’s the only way it’s gonna matter,” LL said of the old-school tour. “I don’t believe that.”

Radio.com spent some quality time with LL and spoke to him about his recent collaborators.

On Eddie Van Halen: “Working with Eddie was just amazing. I just really wanted to work with the best, work with people that I respect, people that I look up to, people that impress me, people that I believe are truly super talented… and even more talented than myself. I feel like Eddie falls in that category. Now Eddie Van Halen has officially done a hip-hop record. And I have officially worked with one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived.”

LL Cool J and Eddie Van Halen in the studio. (Courtesy of LL Cool J/Facebook)

LL Cool J and Eddie Van Halen in the studio. (Courtesy of LL Cool J/Facebook)

Read more of LL talking about Eddie Van Halen here.


On Brad Paisley
: “You know, working with Brad was amazing. We did one for his album, which is called ‘Accidental Racist,’ which I think is very thought provoking and very interesting. It’s going to get a lot of attention… and I’ll leave it at that ’cause I wanna let him [talk about it]… I don’t wanna spoil his thing on his album but we did something that was really cool. The song we did on my record… it’s not like I’m trying to do a gimmicky thing. It’s not like, ‘Oh the country meets the rapper and it’s a hoedown!’ It’s none of that. He’s a great singer. I let him sing on something that I felt he would sound cool on… And play the guitar as well because musicianship is a huge part of this record. That’s why I also got like Bootsy Collins on this album. I wanted great musicians on my album. Brad was a lot of fun in the studio. He’s playing the guitar. I mean, this whole album is like a genre-smashing moment.”

On working with Chuck D, Tom Morello and Travis Baker on “Whaddup”: “The song is about is somebody’s who’s got so much pressure on them that they’re ready to go postal. But instead of actually going postal, they actually fight back through succeeding and by making it happen. If I’m gonna hit a drum and get wicked, I want the best drummer. I don’t want to start an argument. Give me Travis Barker. This is a hip-hop scratch kinda thing so let’s get Tom Morello who can damn near scratch with his guitar and let him and Z [Trip] go back and forth. Let Z do some wicked scratching on there. Let Chuck [D] bring the live thing. Don’t just sample Chuck, let me get Chuck. It’s a great song. I think the best way to feel the song is live. It’s one of those songs that when you see us perform it, you get it. I would encourage people to come to the tour.”

On The Kings Of The Mic Tour, with Public Enemy, Ice Cube and De La Soul: “I just got tired of sitting in meetings and listening to people tell me why I gotta have whoever the new young rapper is on my tour because that’s the only way it’s gonna matter. I don’t believe that. Public Enemy’s ‘My Uzi Weighs A Ton,’ I just want to see that live. Ice Cube has an amazing career, he’s done amazing things. But I didn’t forget about the music that he made as I watching him come up: ‘It Was A Good Day,’ ‘Check Yo Self.’ I just wanted to be able to share the stage with these guys. De La Soul, a group that was always, to me, on the other side of what I did musically, but really cool. They were at another extreme. They were even, to me, light years ahead in terms of their point of view and what they saw as relevant and important in music. They helped break new ground for hip-hop and for our genre because they weren’t afraid to do things that a lot of us wouldn’t touch.”

(Reporting by Scott Sterling, Radio.com)

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