LL Cool J is gearing up for the release is his next album, his 13th, titled Exit 13, which some people have speculated to be his last with the label.
The Queens rapper recently called into DJ Kay Slay’s Shade45 radio show, Streetsweepers Radio, where he revealed that it is the last of his contract with the label he signed to when he was a teenager.
“I signed a 10 album deal [with Def Jam], I do 10 albums. I do another deal for another three albums, and this is the third of those three albums,” LL said. “My thing was like, at the end of my contract, the last thing that … I was gonna do is not deliver on the music, or at least do my best to deliver. I’m not saying I’m leaving the music business. And by no means am I looking to like separate myself from Def Jam … there’s no negative or bad blood there.
“If they need me in the future to be a part of Def Jam anniversary tributes or box sets … I’ll make arrangements to make those kind of things happen,” he continued.
The rapper didn’t answer the question directly, but it seems as though he’d like to explore other options after this upcoming album runs its course. However, he admitted that he feels good about the situation this time around, saying that Def Jam is fully committed to the upcoming release, despite having disappointments, promotion-wise, on his past albums.
“Me and Def Jam, we have a great relationship. L.A. Reid has been on top of this thing. We speak regularly now … I feel like I have their full attention and they’re committed to this project,” explained the rapper.
LL also addressed the commercial failures of his past few albums, admitting that he didn’t give the projects the full attention they needed, but made it a requirement this time around. He’s so happy with the project, he’s asking that the fans trust him when he says “it’s hot.”
“The last two or three albums — I did have some hit singles here and there — but overall because of my movies and films and television … and my various business ventures, I think that my music suffered a little bit,” LL admits. “I think that I owe the culture this album. So I took a year and a half, almost two years and really had fun. I didn’t do no movies … I just really put everything on hold for a minute and decided to recommit myself to doing some hip-hop that I love, wanna hear and that I’m a fan of.”
“This is the time I’m asking everyone to trust me, and go out and get [this album]. This one is hot,” he added.
When asked if he had future plans of possibly taking the Jay-Z route and doing the executive thing at his longtime label, LL said he had no interest in it at all.
“It’s not a job that I want,” LL said. “I was offered those types of jobs at Def Jam 10 years ago, 12 years ago. People don’t know that. I’ve already went that route. For me, it’s a tough idea. I’m LL Cool J man. I don’t wanna go up to Def Jam every morning man, in a tie, sitting up behind a desk with some artist telling ‘Where my money at?’ I’m happy, I’m excited about what I’m doing. I don’t wanna have to go up in the building every morning.”
Exit 13 is slated for release July 8. So far, the first material released from the album is the Lil Mo assisted “Cry.”
In the meantime, LL has decided to feed the streets with a mixtape to hold them over. It’s actually his first-ever mixtape, titled The Return Of The G.O.A.T. According to LL, the mixtape represents his commitment and love for the genre, and also to prove he’s got skills.
“[The new mixtape], for me, is about showing my commitment. It’s about showing the public how much I care about hip-hop … I don’t mind getting out here, making mixtapes, having fun, showing you I have bars, showing you what I’m capable of on the mic, and showing you that this project is worth picking up.”