Looking to make his musical comeback (just don’t call it that), the Queens, New York rap legend is currently gearing up to release his first album in a decade to coincide with Hip Hop’s 50th birthday this year.
With the exception of Joey Crack, who featured on the “I Shot Ya (Remix)” back in 1995, it’ll mark the first time each of those artists has appeared on wax with James Todd Smith.
Eminem was originally supposed to be on LL’s G.O.A.T. 2 in 2014, and while that project got shelved, LL continued to tease a Slim Shady collaboration on his long-awaited 14th studio album.
“He actually did his vocals and everything,” he told Billboard in 2016. “It really happened. I want the overall project to be good. Em is my man and I love him. He’s also a friend of mine, so we’ll definitely get it poppin’. The world has been waiting for that. They’ll get it the right way and it’s gonna be amazing.”
Although the song never saw the light of day, the pair eventually shared the stage in 2021 at LL COOL J’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where Em helped his Hip Hop hero perform “Going Back to Cali” and “Rock the Bells.”
In addition to its stacked supporting cast, LL COOL J’s new album boasts plenty of firepower behind the boards, with A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip set to handle production duties.
“The album, I think, is really, really special,” LL told E! News at the 2023 Grammy Awards in February, where he partook in the star-studded “Hip Hop 50” tribute performance. “I think it’s something modern without chasing. It’s a whole new thing. I can’t wait for the people to see it.”
He added: “I think honestly and sincerely that Q-Tip as a producer is unbelievable and what he did on this record for me, I think is amazing. So the world will decide.”
While further details remain scarce, LL kickstarted the rollout for the project earlier this month by premiering the first single, “The Force,” on Rock the Bells Radio.
Produced by Q-Tip, the hard-hitting track borrows sonic elements from Tip’s 1999 Amplified cut “End of Time” and lists the late, great Michael Jackson as a co-songwriter.
It also shares the same name as LL COOL J’s upcoming arena tour with The Roots, DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Z-Trip. Billed as the “ultimate Hip Hop mash-up tour,” the collective will be joined by a slew of special guests in select cities, from Big Boi and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony to Rick Ross and Rakim.