Back in the day, if you wanted to look like LL Cool J, all you needed was a Kangol, gold chain, track suit, and sneer. But in the age of market-friendly MCs, the recipe for achieving Cool James-ness has become much more involved. Now you’ve gotta invest in a new wardrobe, buy a book, apply some chapstick (well, that deal’s still in the works), and, quite possibly, snag not only a line of vitamin supplements but some cologne as well.
It’s a tall order. But we’ve got tunes to blast while making like the master. A few weeks ago I interviewed LL about the songs he works out to. And while they’re mostly meant for the gym, I’m guessing that he’d be cool with you listening to them while downing a protein shake, primping at the mirror, or driving to the mall in search of LL-approved products. After all, he’d probably appreciate a mix that’s as diverse as his portfolio.
LL Cool J’s Workout Mix:
Diddy and Christina Aguilera, "Tell Me"
"This is a great record to work out to because of the beat and the overall vibe of the song. It’s very energetic, no question."
James Brown, "Funky Drummer"
"The whole ‘Greatest Hits’ record is so hot. You just listen to it, and it’s an overall vibe. It’s just crazy. His stuff is great to work out to … And his influence on music was unbelievable. I don’t even think there would be hip-hop without James Brown. He pioneered the sound and the feel of the music. He was rapping before rappers."
"This song helps me get fired up, like if I’m maxing out on the bench."
Guns ‘N Roses, "Welcome to the Jungle"
"I like to listen to a few rock songs while working out, and this song would get me really amped up. It’s the beat, it’s the music. It’s much more about the instrumentals. I don’t care what they’re talking about, really. A song like this just pushes you."
"This also gets me amped up. But you know, it’s interesting, even though a lot of athletes get fired up to my own music, I really wouldn’t listen to my music to work out. It’d be distracting. It’d be like a guy trying to work out while watching a movie he was in. I’d much rather hear somebody else. I’m definitely my own biggest critic. I hate every record I’ve made two days after it’s released since I’ve started."
Dr. Dre & Tupac, "California Love"
"A classic. This gets me amped up and makes me want to lift."
KC and the Sunshine Band, "I Get Lifted"
"I love this track. It’s the original that Snoop used on ‘Gin and Juice.’ It really gets me fired up."
Babatunde Olatunji, "Akiwowo (Chant to the Trainman)"
"The whole Brazilian/Africano kind of vibe — with the tribal chants and the drums and the congas — is very interesting to run to. It’s on another level. You’re zoning out and losing yourself a little bit when running, rather than focusing on this one thing you have to do when you’re lifting. Music like this helps with that."