You have had your brushes with disses, and watched the feud between Nas and Jay-Z play out. How do you feel about these types of feuds in the hip-hop community?
Peace is always better than war. Competition is fun in hip-hop, but you can be competitive by making good records. We don’t have to dis one another. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with that either as long as it stays [rooted] in fun.
Which of your albums represents the quintessential LL Cool J?
I don’t think there is such a thing as quintessential. To use Michael Jackson as an example, you could compare “ABC” to “Rock With You” — they are from different eras but equally important.
On a sentimental level, “Mama Said Knock You Out” is an important record, because it was dedicated to my grandmother [who] passed away. Album-wise, I don’t really have a favorite. Maybe the “Mr. Smith” album to a certain extent, just because it was a time of maturity and a time when I went to a different level in my mind — spiritually, emotionally, mentally, psychologically.
Art is funny. I don’t have one [favorite] record. I have quite a few singles I like lot. My favorite single is “Doin’ It.”
Who are your biggest influences?
I’m influenced by everything. As music changes, my influences change. What influenced me in 1996 is not necessarily what influences me now. Right now, I’m influenced by everything that’s out now, that’s going on now.
Madonna has been a strong influence on me in a lot of ways. I’ve always admired the way she’s handled her career. They counted her out, and she’s caught up right now.
There’s a very what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality in the music business. But art and the music business are two different things, and you can never count a great artist out.
Who haven’t you worked with yet who is still on your wish list?
Those are the types of things I kind of let happen naturally.
Are you planning to tour?
I haven’t toured on any of my albums since, like, “Mr. Smith,” but I think I may tour on this one. I like it. I think it’s worthy. Not that the others weren’t. But I think this one feels like a record that I want to get out and tour on. It just feels right.
Do you like touring?
I like the actual concert. Everything in between I could do without. [laughs] The airports, [going] in and out of the hotels, that’s tough for me. That’s why I hardly tour. It’s just so grueling. But I think I’m going to go ahead and give people some love on this one.
What is your take on the whole debate about rappers turning to acting?
It’s our responsibility as human beings to maximize the use of all of our talents. That’s a biblical principal. You’re supposed to use all of your talents. If you don’t put everything to use, then it will be taken from you. So to limit yourself and not take advantage of everything you have the potential to do is foolish.
Do you find yourself pigeonholed in terms of scripts because you are a rapper?
People would only be able to pigeonhole me if I was greedy. I could work a lot more as an actor doing stereotypical roles that people associate with rappers, but I choose not to. It’s not easy.
They didn’t think of me for “Last Holiday,” [because the role was] way, way different than anything I’ve ever done. The studio had to be convinced. People don’t associate me with an everyday guy like the guy in the movie. It’s not so much about the degree of difficulty, it’s about how far away it is from how people perceive you. I’ve definitely been through that, and I still go through that. But I think “Last Holiday” is a perfect example of me getting the opportunity to get outside of that box.
This next question is for the ladies. How often do you work out to maintain your physique?
I’m actually in the process of doing a book. We just put together a deal for a workout book that will give people the ins and outs of how I do what I do physically — my diet, my workout, my philosophy, my ideology. It will probably come at the top of next year.
Is there a second autobiography on the horizon?
I want to see what happens with this workout book. It has a lot of material in there, [and] it will be very personal. We’ll see what happens from there. If, God willing, I live a little bit more, then we can address the sequel.
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