Trailblazing rapper and entrepreneur LL Cool J joined host Shelley Wade at NYC's 94.7 The Block this week to talk about this year's continuing celebration of the birth of Hip-Hop and his own tireless efforts in elevating the culture at large.
LISTEN NOW: LL Cool J talks with Shelley Wade
LL Cool J gave his stamp of approval -- as well as a few of his Rock The Bells radio mixers -- when New York City's 94.7 The Block first hit the airwaves last year, a blessing he was happy to share because, as he says, "it's all about timeless Hip-Hop culture and lifting it up... and that's what I'm about. The fact that these artists don't have an expiration date and that Hip-Hop culture isn't disposable -- I love that. I think the goal now has to be to execute at a higher level and have fun doing it."
LL has been putting that gospel into practice for years, his latest endeavor being on hand as fellow rapper and friend Ludacris received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just weeks ago. "You know, Luda is an extremely talented artist, great songwriter, great performer, and just a good dude," says LL. "I've been following him since he started, and I just wanted to be there for him... I was honored that he asked. To just see a younger brother go to that level and reach those heights. We gotta be there for each other, we gotta support one another."
Looking back to 2016 when he received his own star on the world famous sidewalk, LL remembers it being "the best feeling in the world, and [it] definitely felt like I was doing something right." Adding how he and a group of friends had posed on a blank Hollywood star when they were just teenagers, "to see that come to fruition was an amazing feeling. The accolades are always wonderful --- creating the art is the real high though," he admits. "The real high is performing, doing the festival, doing the tour, putting out the book, doing the new album... those are the things that really move your spirit. And then to be rewarded with those accolades is a good feeling."
WATCH NOW: LL Cool J on the importance of supporting hometown radio
Signing off on The Block's wish to feature Rock The Bells radio mixers Mister Cee and DJ Scratch on the station also came with good feelings all around. "I look at it like this, those guys are hometown New York dudes. I would never want to stand in the way of somebody being able to represent for their hometown and being able to represent for a station in our hometown," says LL. "At the end of the day... I still want to be supportive of hometown stations and what you guys are trying to do because it's dope, and it's Hip-Hop."
"It was a no-brainer for me," he adds. "Everybody might not feel that way, other people may have done it differently, but I think, you know, I play the infinite game, not the finite game. For me, long term, I think hundreds of years from now it's better that they were here than me not letting them be here."
LL's Rock The Bells festival and cruise both return this year, the former heading to Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY, featuring scheduled performances from Queen Latifah, Ludacris, De La Soul, Method Man & Redman, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Salt-n-Pepa, Slick Rick, and tons more on August 5th. "The list goes on and on," says LL. "We're gonna do it real, real big. It's gonna be a lot of fun."
Of course, he's not stopping there. LL Cool J will be hitting the road on his first headlining tour in 30 years featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Roots, and DJ Z-Trip accompanying him at each tour stop with a variety of other artists set to join on select dates including Big Boi, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Common, Doug E. Fresh, Goodie Mob, Ice-T, Jadakiss, Juvenile, MC Lyte, Rick Ross, and many others from the Rock The Bells fest line up as well.
Offering up a preview of what's to come, "the one thing I can say for sure is that all of the things I'm doing now are not about LL Cool J," he says. "It's about the fans and it's about me giving you the best experience you could possibly have; a multigenerational experience."
Wrapping up, LL laid it out plain as day: "I just want to make sure that Hip-Hop culture is served up on a silver platter, you know. I don't want it to be served in a greasy brown paper bag... I just want it to be right."
Listen to the full interview with Shelley Wade and LL Cool J above, and stay tuned for more conversations with your favorite artists right here on Audacy.
Stay tuned as Audacy continues to celebrate the birth and trailblazing influence of Hip-Hop. Check out audacy.com/hiphopmade all through 2023 for more, and listen to your favorite music on Audacy's Hip Hop Made suite of stations, as well as Conscious Hip Hop, Hip Hop Uncut, Women of Hip Hop, and more -- plus check out our talent-hosted Ed Lover's Timeless Throwbacks and Greg Street's Dirty South Hip Hop.