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Ladies love cool Japan, and so does LL Cool J

27 Comments
By Kamasami Kong

“Call me LL… LL is fine,” the 43-year-old rapper, actor, author and star of "NCIS: Los Angeles" confidently says over the phone.

His real name is James Smith, and his famous alias, LL Cool J, is an acronym for Ladies Love Cool James. Raised in Bay Shore, New York, this multi-talented star has visited Japan many times. Right from the beginning of our interview, LL makes it clear he is sending his love and prayers to all those people affected by the recent Tohoku disasters, adding that he feels sure “they’ll do an excellent job recovering.”

Best known for romantic ballads like “I Need Love,” “Around the Way Girl” and “Hey Lover,” LL explains that "NCIS: Los Angeles" — now going into its second season — takes place within the special operations office of the Naval Criminal Investigations Service.

“We do sting operations, we do busts, we do surveillance, we do all the work involved with terrorists, people that are threatening democracy or anyone who might be a threat to the safety of the public, especially if it’s perpetrated by anyone against the Navy, certain parts of the military, Marines, etc…”

LL, a former Boy Scout and paperboy, plays Agent Sam Hanna, a former Navy Seal. “My character is a very, very focused guy. He’s all about protecting his team and the people around him, and it’s very important for him to do whatever’s necessary to make sure the good guys win.”

On the show, Sam Hanna is fluent in Arabic and an expert on the Quran. LL, who in real life dropped out of school to pursue a recording career, adds that Hanna has made use of those specially-acquired skills to better understand his targets’ backgrounds.

I was curious to know if LL could speak any Arabic. The Def Jam rapper responded with some Arabic-sounding terms, but I wasn't sure if he was just pulling the Afghan over my eyes. However, the in-demand superstar, who started rapping at the age of nine, did say, “I’ve definitely been studying [the Arabic language] so that I can understand what I’m saying and so I can understand the culture.”

When asked if he could actually rap in Arabic or if he’s considered busting out any Arabic rhymes in one of his songs, he impulsively adds: “No, no… I don’t think you want to hear me try that.”

To train for the part of Sam Hanna, LL said he visited Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, where he met and engaged in in-depth conversations with members of the special ops. “These are guys who are willing to put their lives on the line and they gave me a lot of insight, helping me to understand why my character does what he does.”

Since he brought up the Navy Seals, I asked his opinion on the way they handled the recent bin Laden situation. LL paused for a moment, then said with confidence, “I think they definitely won that chess game. Checkmate. And the tournament’s still ongoing.”

LL admits not having been a fan of "NCIS" before he got the part, but after checking it out he enjoyed the banter, energy and vibe of the show. As he says, “I got into it!”

"NCIS: Los Angeles" airs weekly on FOX Japan: Fri 9:30-10:30 a.m. & 8-9 p.m., Sat 12-1 p.m., Sun 9-10 p.m., Mon 3-4 p.m.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


27 Comments
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Perhaps, but at least he's not on that bandwagon of singing vile Gangsta Rap, spewing hate against women, constant profanity, glorifying gangsta street lifestyle. Good for him, I say! I love rap, but when I was growing up 20 years ago, rap had a positive message, great beats, at times, funny and catchy lyrics. But nowadays, it's about violence, money and a whole lot of talentless guys using Auto-tunes. LL has a long history of making music and some pretty decent movies, but how many other rappers these day obtain that kind of success?

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LL is cool !!!! Ya Jingling Baby !!!!

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He's no longer a rapper but a Hollywood sellout.

There aren't that many musicians that can have a career spanning decades... at least he's polyvalent, and everything he does, he's good at. I love him in NCIS LA!

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Used to love the bassline on "G.O.A.T" but hated everything else he has done...

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bass4funk: well said.

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He's something like a phenomenon...

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Love him!!!

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LL hasn't had a hit album in a decade. He's no longer a rapper but a Hollywood sellout.

He had tons of hits in the 80s and 90s. How many from the 80s are still making hits? You say Hollywood sellout, I say smart man remaking his career. We should all be so lucky to have the opportunity and talented enough to be successful in multiple careers.

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I wasn’t sure if he was just pulling the Afghan over my eyes.

Love these Metropolis articles! - they're well-written. That reminds me of the line in T-Bone's "I'm on a Boat": "Got me a tropical themed Cashmere Afghan."

All power to the man. Seems like he's doing what he knows and likes and is good at and is appreciated. Would it be the same for all of us.

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Forgive me - that should have been "T-Pain." C'mon, I'm a 46-year old white guy!

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C'mon, I'm a 46-year old white guy!

Too much info, makes me feel old as I am close. ;)

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Going back to Cali....

Yes indeed:)

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Eru-Eru I rabuuyuuuuu chuuuu

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Ha ha, "T-Bone"!

There is actually a rapper by that name who does Christian themed Spanglish tunes about Cali's El Salvadoreans. He is as good as LL Cool J (though not as famous), and that's a compliment.

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Or maybe I should say T-Bone is just as "bad"--that's a compliment too.

There's also the alt-country producer T-Bone Burnett. No relation to Bizzy Bone of BTNH.

I remember a guy I went to summer camp with had the name Mike Bone. That seemed like a cool name but now I wonder if that's what it really said on his birth certificate!

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What's all this talk about wrap music? This young man seems like a fine upstanding citizen.

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my point is he shouldn't be referred to as a "rapper", rather he should be referred to as an "entertainer" or "actor" or whatever.

Calling him a rapper is like still calling Will Smith a rapper.

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At least he`s not in jail or glorify going to prison and whatnot.

Leave the boring comments be

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Calling him a rapper is like still calling Will Smith a rapper.

HEY! Don't be doggin' the Fresh Prince! :-)

Seems a lot of rappers make the transition to acting; Fresh Prince, Ice-T, LL Cool J, and Marky Mark come to mind. As musical careers rarely last longer than a decade or so, these gentlemen have shown intelligence by changing to a career that is less dependent on how teenagers relate to them.

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HEY! Don't be doggin' the Fresh Prince! :-)

Ahh and the M.I.B dont forget ;)

When I saw LL Cool J on the TV show I couldnt believe it was him. I was like huhh?? I thought he would have selected a more... intense role.

Still quite surprised to be honest. But nevertheless, hes a cool guy

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his 80's music is true hip hop! if any body wants to hear real hip hop look up "the roots" or "mos def " on you tube holla! lol

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Hip Hop records are thought to be disposable. Not even thought as product not mention as art.

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I do not know him, but he looks handsome. I will try to look for his ballads and listen to them.

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I loved 'Mama Said Knock You Out' back in the day!

LL Cool J was also funny in Deep Blue Sea! And he survived!

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LL hasn't had a hit album in a decade. He's no longer a rapper but a Hollywood sellout.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A washed-up has been.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

He is going back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali. Going back to Cali.

I don't think so.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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