LL Cool J, who made his global debut as a rapper in 1984, will return to Miami Garden’s Jazz in the Gardens music festival as the final performance Sunday. It’s been three years since the rapper-turned-actor/host has released any new songs, but LL says he looks forward to taking festival goers through several decades of music.
In this quick interview ahead of JITG, LL Cool J shares how live concerts keep him connected to his first love.
Any new music albums in the works?
No. Not right now. I’m just focused on NCIS Los Angeles and working on Lip Sync Battle but I love to go out and do music live. The only thing (music-related) I’m working on is the live shows.
Miami Gardens has one of the largest black populations. What would you say to young black men who look up to you?
I think that’s such a broad question. We could have a two month seminar: Believing in yourself and not getting discouraged is key and for me, faith in God and in myself. Constantly trying to improve yourself is key. Setting high expectations and meeting them. Believing that your dreams can absolutely come true no mater what the naysayers say. And also, understanding the difference between true strength and ego. I think that’s important to our community. That’s just a sprinkle.
Is that any different than the advice you’d give your younger self?
I just probably would run through the stock market, picking out stocks. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t have any regrets. I think my younger self did a good job at setting myself up. So probably keep going. Maintain your good heart, your passion and keep going at your dreams. Don’t let the “no’s” ruin you and don’t let the “yeses” ruin you. Just keep going.
I’d probably also tell myself to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove.
You’re so busy. What do you have to get done before you come to Miami?
I got all kinds of filming, rehearsal, production. I have a tight schedule but you know when you love something, you’re able to prioritize and figure it out and do it. If you want to make it happen.
But there’s a difference between being busy and productive. A lot of people are busy but they ain’t doing nothing.
This won’t be your first performance at Jazz in the Gardens. What are your thoughts on the mixture of music genres at the festival?
This is my second time at JITG. I always think it’s good when you have a combination of genres. I think that’s a good way to have music exposed to fans.It becomes an amazing time to not only have fun but become educated. A lot of times we can be one-dimensional in our tastes.
They need to stay true to their roots and always keep jazz but I think it’s good to have different artists.
If you go
When: 1o p.m. Sunday, March 18
Where: Hard Rocl Stadium 347 Don Shula Dr, Miami Gardens, FL 33056
Tickets: Tickets start at $96 here.