Music Article

Stupid Questions with LL Cool J

The rapper talks about working with a panther, his Kangol hat, and ''Deep Blue Sea''

Rock the bells — school's back in session: Hip-hop legend/Hollywood playa LL Cool J just dropped album No. 12, Todd Smith. Let's see if he's the type of guy to roll with some Stupid Questions.

Where you at right now? Ferrari? Yacht? Hangin' with hot chicks? Don't leave out any details. We've got plenty of room.
I'm in the south of France, I'm on a great yacht, it's just unbelievable. I'm getting a pedicure. She likes every toe except my little one — she said the nail should be a little bigger. And I'm doing real, real good, man. I got a couple of midget instructors that are gonna help me learn the finer art of Jet Skiing. They're female midget instructors, by the way.

Okay. Now where are you really?
I'm in my office in New York, my feet on the desk, working on my clothing line. But it's still sexy.

We all know that the LL stands for Ladies Love, but what does the Cool stand for?
That's a good question. I dunno, man.... Causing Other Organizations to Lose?

Do you like your chances in a rap battle with L.L.Bean?
I think the beans would get baked.

When you remove your Kangol hat at night, do you place it on the head of Samuel L. Jackson, who then wears it for the next shift?
Yeah, yeah, and he passes me his fake ponytail.... No, I do not place my Kangol hat on the head of Sam Jackson, because if I'm getting ready to go to bed and Sam's there, that would be a little bizarre.

Your 1991 hit ''Mama Said Knock You Out'' was inspired by your grandmother. My grandmother taught me to reason with people. What would've happened if our grandmas had kicked it back in the day?
Your grandmother would've been pulling my grandmother off of people and breaking up fights. Your grandmother would be begging my grandmother not to hit the lady with the. 38.

Was she into The Golden Girls? Because mine was.
Absolutely loved Golden Girls. All of that stuff. They would've done just fine.

You released an album titled Walking With a Panther. I don't know any zookeepers, so maybe you can help: What's it like to walk with a panther? Is it sexy, but in a really scary way?
It was the most ridiculous thing we ever thought of in our lives. We tried to put the smoke in [the album cover picture] to make it extra fancy, and the animal had a natural reaction to smoke. It jumped off the wall, off the ceiling, and back down trying to escape. Crazy. Crazy. Yo, crazy!

Let's talk Deep Blue Sea. How do eight years of acting classes prepare one to play a God-fearing cook with a parrot sidekick who's terrorized by brainy sharks?
It didn't prepare me for the parrot, who continuously went to the bathroom on my uniform and tried to peck at my earrings. I had to get three stitches because he tore my earlobes up. Yeah, the parrot was vicious. I wanted to snap his little neck.

You've undergone several career reinventions. Give us a sneak peek not at the next one but at the one in, say, 2019.
I'll probably come with the red Afro at that point. The year after that, it'll be the potbelly with a tattoo of a microphone in a hammock. I dunno, I gotta think about it. But the red Afro definitely works.

Originally posted Apr 14, 2006 Published in issue #873 Apr 21, 2006 Order article reprints