Playing It Cool

When it comes to hip-hop career longevity, LL Cool J knows that size matters.

"When you're making it, there's no way in the world you can tell what it'll be like," he says. "You can be in this movie thinking that you've made a legendary masterpiece, and when you see it, it will suck major face, you know what I'm saying?"

An example? Without hesitation, he mentions 2002's Rollerball, a remake of a James Caan techno thriller that thrilled absolutely no one other than LL's accountant; the rapper was reportedly paid $1,000,000 to skate alongside fellow partners-in-disaster Chris Klein and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

"When we filmed it, I promise that if you could have been in my body, you would have been like, 'Yo, this is it!'" he says. "And it wasn't it. So there's no way of knowing. To me, they always feel good, because I love performing. They just don't always turn out." He's hoping for better from Deliver Us From Eva, but he doesn't issue any guarantees. "I've heard good things about it, but I haven't seen it yet. And it's a romantic comedy -- those are really difficult films to make right."

LL Cool J is back on the road -- and ready to knock you out.
LL Cool J is back on the road -- and ready to knock you out.

Details

7 p.m. Sunday, July 28
$25-$27, 303-830-8497
Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street

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He has far fewer doubts about his upcoming tour. In the early '90s, he hit the road with a full band of the sort he used on a fascinating episode of MTV Unplugged, but during an appearance at Denver's Paramount Theatre, the configuration didn't work, simply because the musicians couldn't keep up with LL's tongue. It's good news, then, that for his first sizable jaunt in five years, he'll be backed primarily by a DJ. "He'll be doing it real basic, so there's nothing between me and the audience," the main man says.

As for why he's even bothering with live performances at this juncture, his explanation is simple. "I've been doing films and doing so many other things that I almost feel that I've neglected my music supporters out there. So I want to go out and let them see me. I want to touch the people. I want to touch them up close. I want people to get a chance to see me in person and to really feel me. And it's great for me, too. I love the energy of the crowd, the fact that they're so excited, that they came to have fun. That's their purpose for being there, and it's a beautiful feeling."

Granted, the audiences are a bit different these days. "When I started out, it was a crowd full of teenagers. But now there are some people bringing their kids. It's like little kids and teenagers to adults, which is really trippy. But it makes sense."

Indeed, LL's a family man, too, with a wife and four kids between the ages of two and twelve -- and he's bringing his oldest son on the road with him. Once upon a time, talking publicly about such matters would have endangered his image among rap fans, but the rules are changing, and he's part of the reason. If there's a master plan at work, however, he doesn't let on. Doing so wouldn't be Cool.

"I'm just being L, just doing my music," he says. "I don't go home and, like, put cookies and milk in front of my Grammys. I don't sacrifice to the Grammy gods. I just do what I do. The past is the past, you know?"

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