LL Cool J is noshing on a breakfast of egg whites, turkey bacon and turkey sausage when I sit down with him at NYC’s Empire State Building during MasterCard’s Break in Your Jeans event.
Although the rapper-actor has released eleven albums, won two Grammys, fronts a fashion line at Sears and boasts a thriving acting career on NCIS: Los Angeles, the father of four, 41, who has been married to wife Simone since 1995, admits, “I’m not much of a splurge guy. It’s about being comfortable.”
LL tells me, “I don’t live the stereotypical celebrity life that a lot of people live. I don’t have a thousand cars. Actually, I have a lot of books. You’re much more likely to see me with a Kindle or see me with a lot of real books. I mean, I like cars, don’t get me wrong – I have cool cars, but that’s not really my thing. It’s more books. I have a huge library. I may have … it has to be conservatively at least a thousand books.”
He singles out Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Rob Chernow and Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work For You – At Work And In Life by Spencer Johnson as his top tomes.
Hm, if things don’t make him happy, what does?
“The progressive realization of my ideals and my goals,” LL, who goes by James “Todd” Smith in real life, tells me. “Knowing that I’m on track. Knowing that when I set a goal, if my foot is pointing in the direction of my goal, and I’m getting closer to my goal, I’m good with that. But I think happiness is fleeting. It’s more about being fulfilled and having joy – as opposed to happiness, because a lot of times, happiness is an external thing, whereas joy is an internal thing, and you can be joyful even if you’re in a challenging situation. It’s a little different. Like mountain climbing – it’s laborious, it’s tedious, it’s hard, it’s arduous. You can be joyful – but you’re not necessarily happy. So when I’m working out, I’m not really happy, but I’m joyful.”
LL Cool J is a spokesperson for MasterCard’s Break In Your Jeans program, which gives cardholders an opportunity to win a pair of jeans and a personally designed travel experience to take with those they cherish most while wearing those jeans. Enter to win here.