LL Cool J has not had a platinum-selling album in nearly ten years, and he says he has himself to blame. “With all my television and film projects, the quality level of my recent albums has suffered,” LL said, while speaking with Rolling Stone. “This is a record that I actually, honestly believe from the deepest part of my soul, I would buy — every record you make is not like that.”

“Mr. Smith” credits his lyrical improvement to the Hollywood writer’s strike, which gave him more time to focus on music. He estimates that he threw away two full albums worth of material from his original version of the forthcoming Exit 13. Fellow Queens native 50 Cent will likely lend his support, and LL says the album showcases “a whole other level of dedication, commitment, creativity.” Wyclef Jean, Lil Kim, Jim Jones, KRS-One, Method Man and Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora are all slated to be featured.

Will LL Cool J‘s 13th album be his last at the only label he’s ever known? In past years Def Jam‘s longest tenured emcee has not been shy about voicing his displeasure with the label’s former president Jay-Z. With Shakir Stewart taking Jay-Z‘s vacated spot, “The G.O.A.T.” even hinted that the August 5 release of Exit 13 may not be his final Def Jam effort saying, “It’s my last record on the contract, but that doesn’t mean that our relationship is over.”