LL COOL J has announced that he will be releasing his first full-length project in 10 years this year, offering fans some clues as to what they can expect.
While the pioneering former Def Jam Records artist did not directly acknowledge his 55th birthday on Twitter on Saturday (January 14), he did share a video of him receiving a custom art piece from his DJ Z-Trip for his special day.
He also shared one major plan for the year. “I’m competing with myself on this new album. Wait til you hear this MF. [musical notes emoji],” LL tweeted. “This year B. It’s coming.”
The last LL COOL J album, Authentic, was released in 2013, five years after his final Def Jam album, Exit 13. During his time at the iconic label, the rapper released an album every two or three years from 1987 to 2008.
I’m competing with myself on this new album. Wait til you hear this MF. 🎶 This year B. It’s coming.
— LLCOOLJ (@llcoolj) January 14, 2023
This isn’t the first time LL COOL J has hinted at a follow-up to Authentic. In a number of 2014 interviews, the “Around The Way Girl” rapper detailed a forthcoming album titled G.O.A.T. 2, a sequel to his eighth studio album.
In addition to revealing that J. Cole, Raekwon and T.I. would all appear as guests on the project, LL COOL J also spoke to journalists about the edgier sound he was aiming for with this release.
“In my career, I’ve done two types of albums,” LL told HipHopVibe, “Cultural albums, and then the ones that people will always like. The people connect with my cultural albums, as it connects with the streets. But, with this new album, I dealt with my man, Bim, and I got all kinds of artists on this album from Maino, Raewkon, Uncle Murda, and a lot of others because I wanted to give them opportunities to shine.”
“The other part of it is people wondering what this album is for and this album is mainly for the n-ggas,” he continued. “It’s gritty. This one is not for the ladies. This album features nothing but real stories, true stories, what I want to do keep it true and embrace the current environment and take it to the next level. I am not trying to sound like I’m from down South and I’m not trying to sound like I’m ’90s New York. It ain’t about how old you are, it’s about how you connect with the people.”
Despite being quiet on the new music front of late, LL COOL J has remained an active figure in Hip Hop, even as his career as an actor has blossomed.
In 2018, he founded Rock The Bells with a focus on uplifting the culture and elements of Hip Hop. The brand uses content, commerce, merchandise and various experiences to remind fans where Hip Hop came from.
The name of the brand — which originally launched as a SiriusXM channel and online platform — comes from LL COOL J’s 1985 hit “Rock The Bells.” The rap icon had to reclaim ownership of the name after another company had used it for their own festival in the mid-2000s.
In August 2022, LL’s organization held its first Rock The Bells Festival with performances by a number of legacy and current Hip Hop artists including Ice Cube, Rick Ross, Lil Kim, The Diplomats, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Scarface, Digable Planets and more.
Up next, Rock The Bells will take the party to the open seas with the inaugural Hip Hop Experience Cruise in celebration of the genre turning 50 years this year.
The unique cruise experience will be brought to life in partnership with Sixthman, and will set sail aboard the Norwegian Pearl from Miami to The Bahamas on November 13, 2023 for four nights through November 17.
There will be a full lineup of performers announced at a later date but guests will be welcomed to a kick-off party on the boat’s deck with a concert from Trina and Trick Daddy.