LOS ANGELES (AP) - Don't call it a comeback. It's a tribute.
"NCIS: Los Angeles" star and rapper LL Cool J is nervously excited to pause from his duties as host of the Grammy nominations concert special Wednesday to perform with a multigenerational group of rappers.
"We're doing a special dedication to 'The Message,' which is one of the seminal hip-hop records," a sweaty LL Cool J said during a break from rehearsals Tuesday afternoon. "It launched the genre. I'm getting to perform with Grandmaster Flash, Scorpio, Melle Mel and then we brought in Common and Lupe Fiasco. It's this really cool version of 'The Message.'"
The group practiced their rendition of the Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five 1982 classic in the Nokia Theatre lobby Tuesday before taking the stage to rehearse. Under flashing red and white lights, Grandmaster Flash manned the tables, while Furious Five members Melle Mel and Scorpio shared verses with Common, Lupe Fiasco and LL Cool J.
Other musicians set to perform during the concert special include such possible nominees as Lady Gaga, Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Sugarland and Rihanna.
Despite hosting and performing at each of the previous three Grammy nominations concerts, LL Cool J said he still feels pressure commanding the show, which is scheduled to air live Wednesday on CBS.
"It's live TV," he said. "I never take it for granted. You gotta be ready for it."