LL Cool J returns this week with his 12th Def Jam album, "Todd Smith," the artist's given name.

LL Cool J returns this week with his 12th Def Jam album, "Todd Smith," the artist's given name. The set features guest appearances by Mary J. Blige, 112, Ginuwine, Freeway and Juelz Santana, with production by Timbaland, Pharrell, Scott Storch and Trackmasters, among others. The Jermaine Dupri-produced lead single "Control Myself," features Jennifer Lopez.

"Todd Smith" will be the follow-up to 2004's "The Definition," which peaked at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 747,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"All I can really do is what I do and what comes natural, what I love," LL says when asked if, as a veteran artist, he consciously tried to appeal to a younger audience. "If you pay attention to that, then hopefully someone should be able to relate to it. Whatever project I'm involved with, I try to make it positive and fun and as cool. I just make it to my taste, in other words, and go from there."

And with more than 20 years of rap seniority under his belt, the artist says the difficulty comes in innovating and reinventing each time around. "The challenge always becomes trying to do the best work you can, trying to make the best music you can, trying to do something that's really exciting -- and at the same time not repeating yourself," he says. "So it becomes more and more of a challenge for me. I don't take it for granted. That's why I like to work with a lot of talented people."

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