For his upcoming 13th studio album, Authentic, legendary rapper LL Cool J has recruited a veritable who’s who of A-list collaborators across all musical genres, including Fitz and the Tantrums, Snoop Dogg, Brad Paisley and Eddie Van Halen.
The album’s first single, “Whaddup,” boasts a rap-rock super-group, with star turns from Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Blink-182’s Travis Barker and DJ Z-Trip.
The song, which LL Cool J premiered as the grand finale of this year’s GRAMMY Awards ceremony, actually carries a lot of meaning for the rapper, who hopes the message of perseverance rings through the song’s booming beats.
“The song is about is somebody’s who’s got so much pressure on them that they’re ready to go postal,” LL Cool J explained during an exclusive interview with Radio.com. “But instead of actually going postal, they fight back through succeeding and by making it happen. Frank Sinatra had an interesting quote: the best revenge is massive success [laughs].”
LL added: “It’s about stress and people being stressed out, but they’re coming through it. They refuse to lose. A lot of people can relate to that. Single parents, mothers, cab drivers, presidents, politicians, pastors, you name it.”
“Who wants to be that person going nuts? Who wants to be the person going crazy? Who wants to be the person that’s down-trodden? None of us. We all wanna take our lives to another level. We all want to succeed,” LL continued, rapping some of the song’s lyrics.
In regards to the all-star cast that backs him up on the song, LL Cool J explained that when it comes to musical collaborations, he simply prefers to work with the finest musicians possible.
“If I’m gonna hit a drum and get wicked, I want the best drummer,” he said. “I don’t want to start an argument, [but] give me Travis Barker. This is a hip-hop scratch kinda thing, so let’s get Tom Morello, who can damn near scratch with his guitar, and let him and Z [Trip] go back and forth. Let Z do some wicked scratching on there. Let Chuck [D] bring the live thing. Don’t just sample Chuck, let me get Chuck.”
“I think the best way to feel the song is live,” he said, adding that’s why he chose to premiere the song during GRAMMYs. “It’s one of those songs that when you see us perform it, you get it. I would encourage people to come to the tour,” the NCIS: Los Angeles star said about the forthcoming Kings of the Mic outing that boasts Public Enemy, Ice Cube and De La Soul all on the road with LL Cool J.
“Don’t miss it. And get the album, because it’s worth it.” the rapper insisted. “It’s worth the adventure. It’s worth the discovery. You might become a fan of somebody you didn’t even know. You might end up playing all Parliament-Funkadelic records ‘cause I got Snoop [Dogg] and Bootsy [Collins] on the record together with Travis [Barker] playing the drums. It’s unbelievable.”
Authentic is set for release on April 30, with the Kings of the Mic Tour kicking off on May 23 in Tucson, Arizona before wrapping up at the Essence Music Festival at L.A.’s Greek Theater on July 7.