The Grammy Nominations Concert has become a star-studded annual event that is televised in U.S. on CBS. In addition to live performance, the event announces the nominees for the next Grammy Awards. The 2011 Grammy Nominations Concert was held November 20 at the Nokia Theater. Here is what this celebrity who attended the event said in backstage during a press conference in the media room.
LL COOL J
How did it feel to perform with some of your hip-hop heroes tonight?
When I think about the song “The Message,” I remember being a little boy and hearing that song and saying to myself … I didn’t know the word “environment.” I was a little kid, maybe 11 or 12. I don’t know what year exactly, but I remember saying to myself “Wow, this sounds like outside. This sound sounds like the environment. This song sounds like the world around me.”
Hearing that song, it just kind of tapped into something that was different. I guess I would liken it to people who were little kids when “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye came out. And that was a socially conscious thing that spoke to a lot of people.
And then to be able to get on stage and perform with Grandmaster Flash and [Melle] Mel and Scorpio was amazing to me because just imagine a kid, some grunge kids who just did rock with or being able to get on stage with Keith Richards. It’s the same type of feeling — or some blues kid being able to get up there with you name it, a “who’s who” in blues. So it was pretty amazing.
What do you think about Kanye West getting seven Grammy nominations this year?
I think it’s great. Kanye is very talented. He’s done some great work. When it’s your season to shine and for people to be embraced by the community, you get embraced. I hope he wins, and I wish him all the best.
What does the Grammy Nominations Concert mean to you, because it’s changed a lot since it started?
The show is really special because not only am I a host, but I’m a co-producer. So over the last three or four years, just seeing the show growing and go from this small little thing in a small, little club to this big event in this huge event has been amazing. And, you know, working closely with [Grammy Awards telecast executive producer] Ken Ehrlich and watching it come together and go from a show that A-list artists were like, “Eh, I’m not sure” to being an show where A-list artists are dying to be a part of it.
And we actually have to decide and pick and choose who’s going to be a part of the show. It’s amazing. It happened really quickly. It was pretty magical. It ran, like it was clicking on all cylinders tonight. We touched on a lot of different genres, gave people something they could enjoy. And hopefully, people liked it. We’ll see.
Adele has had some problems with her vocal cords this year. Can you talk about vocal health and how to take care of your vocals?
Vocal health, that’s a tough thing, because every performer is going to give you their wives’ tale. One person is telling you “honey and lemon,” and the next person is telling you, “Chew crushed ice and take down the inflammation in your vocal cords.”
Everybody has a different answer. It can be something as freaky as allergy season, and you’re on the road, and next thing you know, you need a host or a Z-Pak of something trying to figure out why you can’t talk. Just think about it. Everybody here, for no reason, you can’t talk. Imagine being on tour when that happens.
You’ve just got to hope for the best. There’s really no solution other than to “shut up.” A lot of singers just won’t talk. People think they’re being creative and internalizing their art. They just don’t want to talk! You know what I’m saying?
It’s tough. I do wish Adele all the best. She put together an amazing record [“21”]. I bought it on iTunes. I think [“21”] producer Rick Rubin did a great job. I hope she gets better.
Have you ever had a loss of voice?
I have had it before. I’m not afraid of it. When you’re a rap artist, you’ve just got to work with whatever you’re working with. It’s not trying to be — may he rest in peace — [Luciano] Pavarotti.
You want to stay healthy. Health in general is important. You want to be physically fit. You know, as you get older, I said the other day, “There’s nothing cooler than being healthy.” A lot of people would argue that [being] rich and healthy is better.
I think being healthy is really, really important. There’s nothing cooler than that, so you’ve got to take care of yourself. A lot of people, as they get older, they let themselves go. They turn 30, 35, and they just give up. They feel like, “If I’m not 20somehting, I shouldn’t be in shape.” I think that’s the wrong attitude. We want just be as healthy as we can.
What can you say about your new music?
I just recently put a single out. I put it on iTunes. I didn’t do a deal with any record company. The industry is really in flux right now. I didn’t want to get into a big promotional thing and trying to overdo it.
But I did do a song with Ne-Yo. It was featured in one of my episodes on “NCIS: Los Angeles.” And the people responded so favorably to me featuring it in the episode that I decided to put it out on iTunes.
I did a couple of radio tours. [Ryan] Seacrest played it. A couple of other people have toyed with it. We’ll see. I have three or four [new] albums done. I just haven’t put anything out, but I’m always creating.
Which song of yours would you like to be in the Grammy Hall of Fame?
Most people would think “Mama Said Knock You Out,” but I would think a song for me would be “I Need Love,” because the difference is that “I Need Love” created a whole genre of rap music. And I say this with humility, but it is true.
It created a whole world where [rap] artists make songs to females and choruses and “Around the Way Girl” and all of those records that I made kind of created a space and a lane — similar to what Dr. Dre did for gangsta rap. And so hopefully, I would say “I Need Love.” That lane, I hope people embrace it. But you know what? I don’t get caught up in the Hall of Fame stuff. It is what it is.
You began your music career as a teenager. Would you recommend that teens become rappers in today’s music business?
I’ll put it to you like this: When I was 16, Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin and I, we started the company Def Jam. And I was the first artist on the label. And I think that was cooler than going to a prom, for me. I was OK with that. [He laughs.] I missed the prom, but I celebrated anyway. So it was good.
I think you have to be careful, so I would advise them to stay away from the drugs, not live life on the edge. Everybody’s going to party and have a good time. I’m not trying to sound like Apple Pie Man, but you’ve got to do things in moderation and take care of yourself — or you won’t have a career.
I remember my mother said to me, “Todd, now you know, if you get high, you can ruin your career, and it could all be over tomorrow.” And I’m like a zombie: “OK, I understand.”
And she’s like, “It can be over!” I said, “OK, ma.” You’ve got to stay away from the drugs. And save your money. Get a cheeseburger later. Big change, no money. It’s ridiculous.
For more info: Grammy website
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