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By Any Name, He's LL Cool J

Of the Oakland Press

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“Todd Smith” is veteran rapper LL Cool J’s 11th album, but it’s the fi rst time he felt it was appropriate to use his real name as a title.

“I put a lot of personal feelings into all my records, but this one had a more personal point of view,” explains the 38-year-old Long Island native, who’s been one of rap’s biggest names since the 1985 release of his debut, “Radio.” He’s also acted (“The Hard Way,” “Toys”) and written children’s books.

But he acknowledges that the “Todd Smith” title has to do with more than just the music.

“I’m doing music and I have my clothing line as well,” explains Cool J, who was born James Todd Smith (his rap handle stands for Ladies Love Cool James). “I wanted to tie everything together so that people would know this is an extension of me as an artist and an extension of my spirit. I think that the music kind of refl ects that, and the whole lifestyle and the whole movement refl ects that.”

Besides, he adds, “most people in my personal life call me Todd, so this is not unusual. It’s just the first time I’ve allowed it to come out of the music this much. But it feels like the right time.”

LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (July 22nd)at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metro Pkwy., Sterling Heights. Tickets are $50-$75 pavilion, $10-$25 lawn. Call (586) 268-5100 or visit

Web Site: www.freedomhill.net

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