JANUARY 2019 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 13
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
10 seasons now, and is also the host
of Lip Sync Battle on the Paramount
Network (formerly Spike), which debuted
in 2015. He’s hosted the Grammy
Awards five consecutive times,
and famously delivered a touching
tribute to Whitney Houston at the
2012 ceremony less than 24 hours
after the news broke of her death.
In December 2017, LL became
the first rapper to be honored at
the Kennedy Center — the highest
achievement a performer can receive.
Earlier this year, Sirius XM
Radio announced LL would helm his
own station — Rock the Bells Radio
— curating classic hip-hop and deep
cuts for fans of the genre.
Just trying to recount his decades
long career is exhausting. But
if he’s at all tired of his life in the
public eye, it doesn’t show. He seems
right at home in the center of the
room at this fundraiser — backing
a cause he cares about — twirling a
basketball and smiling for people.
What made you want to start
Jump & Ball? It all started from just
being a little kid and I remember guys
in the neighborhood used to throw a
basketball tournament. I always said
to myself, if I was ever in a position
to be able to provide that kind of an
opportunity for the kids I would,
and I'll tell you why. You know, my
grandmother used to always say the
idle mind is the devil's workshop. Just
walking around the neighborhood
with nothing to do, you just end up
in trouble. It's just a weird kind of
byproduct of being in Queens and just
being in that area. Even, there's parts
of Long Island like that. So, I decided
that I wanted to give these kids an opportunity
to learn about teamwork,
to really just keep them out of trouble
and maybe teach them some sports,
and just improve the lives of the kids
in the community.
Have you thought about offering
the camp in other areas? I
really would rather just deepen
the roots first. I mean, yes, there's
always thoughts of maybe doing it
in other neighborhoods and replicating
the idea and the concept
and growing it out. That's always a
What do you consider to be your
main gig right now? I can think
of about 10 different possibilities.
Whatever's on LL Cool J's schedule.
I'm an entertainer, man. I entertain
the world, you know. And I do it in a
lot of different ways.
It seems like your Sirius XM
station, Rock the Bells Radio, is a
passion project for you. It's definitely
a passion project. I'm putting
classic hip-hop at the forefront of pop
culture again — and in a cool way. It’s
designed strictly for the fans that really
love the music, you know what
I'm saying? And then everybody else,
you know, they can sneak in if they
want, but we're not concerned with
How has your own career
shaped what the station has
become? It's enjoyable because
I 100 percent believe in myself
and what I can do and what I've
done in my career, but at the
same time I'm able to move that
out of the way and allow it to be
a platform for all of the classic
artists. So, it's not like a glorified
LL Cool J fan station. I really do
my best to make it as authentic
as possible and true to the experience
that the fans should have. It's
really selfless in that regard. And
I started it in 2018 ... I'm giving
you vintage vibes by design.
What artists have you
been listening to lately?
Last night Ice Cube sent
me his new album, which
was really exciting. Some
of the stuff that he's talking
about I think is gonna really
shake things up. He definitely
has a very specific point of
view and he comes at it from
an O.G. original ganster perspective.
In terms of a newer
artists, I was listening to Meek
Mill’s album last night and I was
enjoying that as well. So that was a
day in the life right there.
Can we expect new music from
you in the future? You know, it's
possible, man. Artists don't retire.
That's a myth. We're not athletes.
Just because your knee is
sore doesn't mean you
can't get in the booth.
Picasso was how old
painting? Doing great
work? Like, stop it. So,
we'll see. We'll see.
LL Cool J in character as
Sam Hanna in NCIS: Los
Angeles. Photo: Erik Voake/
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