By Christina Garibaldi
Since 2009, LL has starred on "NCIS: Los Angeles," which has been renewed for its fourth season, but now he's finding it tough to stay away from his first passion. LL is back and ready to show his fans what they've been missing. He has been hard at work, in between taking down burglars at his home, on his 13th studio album, his first since 2008's Exit 13.
"Well, I took four years off to do TV and kinda explore other things artistically," LL told MTV News at the MixTape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania. "I just felt like it was time to come back to my roots. I feel like I don't want to just totally ignore and get away from what got me here. I don't forget where I came from, and I love music. So it's time for me to give those LL Cool J fans who have been patiently waiting for an album to give them a real album, not me tinkering around, not some little underground single that bleeds from nowhere, but a real, proper, true album."
And getting back to his roots is exactly what he's doing, revealing that this album, which doesn't yet have a release date, is for his fans that have been there since he released his debut, Radio, in 1985.
"I'm working on it. I'm still tweaking it and fixing it, but it's a lot of fun," LL said. "It's authentic hip-hop. I can't wait for people to hear it. It's definitely for people who grew up and who bought some vinyl when they were growing up or at least bought a CD when they were growing up, and its real hip-hop. It's not LL cashing in, trying to do what people are doing now in terms of hip-hop, and I'm OK with that, but it's very current and real. It's me doing me."
The veteran MC revealed that the first single is "right around the corner" but was adamant that his next effort will not be packed with guest stars because he's "not about trying to fit in and do features."
"I'm at the point now where sometimes I listen to the radio, and I might like the song, and I'll recognize the artists, but I don't know whose song it is," LL Cool J said, who has collaborated with Method Man, DMX and Jennifer Lopez in the past. "It's five artists who all perform together on every record, and I don't know whose record it is."
So what does LL Cool J think of the current state of hip-hop, which often features multiple collaborations on one track?
"I wouldn't say I'm dissatisfied; I would say there's room for more," LL said. "I would say a lot of music right now is catering to 14- and 17-year-olds, and that's totally OK, but there are people who grew up on hip-hop who are a little more mature and want to hear a different style of hip-hop, and to them, that's authentic and credible and that's what they want to hear."