These days, Queen Latifah and LL Cool J are rocking a whole new kind of stage.
Twenty years ago they were rap stars. Now they’re actors, co-starring in “Last Holiday.” Latifah plays Georgia Byrd, a frumpy saleswoman who changes her life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. LL plays the man she has always secretly wanted.
The hip-hop icons spoke to The Associated Press about changes they’ve been through, little girls who imitate music videos and their futures in the rap game.
AP: So for the ladies, Queen, what was it like kissing LL Cool J?
LL: Lord have mercy...
Latifah: Well I didn’t get the whole kiss, like I wanted to. Ya know, I ain’t want nobody after me or nothing like that. So I have to just take the slob. All right Simone (referring to LL’s wife), I deserve that.
LL: I’m fairly capable.
Latifah: He’s not bad. He’s a little squooshy around the gut, he could lose a few pounds, let’s just say that. (Laughs.) No, everything he showed me made him much more attractive, and his character, as an actor — I’m not thinking about LL Cool J and I’m not Latifah when I’m kissing him, I’m Georgia Byrd, and LL is Shawn ... that was what made the kiss much sweeter than some of the deeper French kisses I’ve shared with other people. It’s what leads up to the kiss. So basically the lips are soft, I’d do it again.
AP: How did you perceive one another before the movie, and how did that change afterward?
LL: I didn’t know how much input she had personally in her life. A lot of times as a man, the way pictures get painted to you is that the woman is not really the person making the decisions or she’s not the person that has the vision. And when I met her, five minutes in, I knew that I was dealing with someone who’s brilliant. I knew she was smart, but I didn’t know she was a general.
Latifah: Just to do leisurely things with him like go bowling, and not feel like you got somebody that’s all over you. I know other guys married with kids and successful and still will go after everything around them, including me. I never felt like I had a vulture on my back. And I think that says a lot about his character.
AP: Latifah, where were you when you heard you were getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Latifah: I was home for the holidays. It was only a few weeks ago over the Christmas holiday. ... It’s one of the few things I’ve actually wanted. And not just for myself, but really for every person who has that dream of making it in Hollywood. When I went to Hollywood the first time when I was 17, and walked down that street and saw all of these names, I just dreamed I could make it and I could be there.
AP: What’s the biggest difference today from when you came into the entertainment industry?
LL: The industry has gotten larger, the language has changed, it’s become a little more risque and it’s become tough on women. Somewhere along the line, a lot of insecure men started really coming down on women in a harsh way.
Latifah: Like they hated women. You wanna hit it, but you hate it?
LL: As a black male I see a lot of insecurity amongst our men, cause we feel like we gotta dog women and make ourselves look better. And I say that not to try to judge everybody and make our guys upset, it’s the reality of what we’re seeing. So that’s the only thing I would see that’s the biggest problem. Because you know I have daughters so I feel it. I see it. When you have a 6 year old or 5 year old running around feeling like they gotta wind their body cause that’s what girls are supposed to do, cause that’s all that’s on the videos, that’s crazy. What are we teaching our girls? Not that we shouldn’t have sexy records or make great music and show women being beautiful. I’m not saying that. It’s how we do it.
AP: What’s in the future for you?
LL: I put out a record in March. I have a few films in production. I did a production deal with Lion’s Gate Films to produce movies. And I have a fashion company, my second one.
AP: Latifah, you made a joke on an awards show about your current standing as an MC. When are you making a new rap album?
Latifah: I’ve never stopped really writing, but I have so much going on inside of me. I just need to take the moment and put my energies to what’s happening right now right then. When my film career started to go there, I had to focus my energies on building it. Not trying to do everything at once. I have to streamline. I would love to talk about putting out another rap record, L and I were talking about it the other day, he gave me a great idea that I’m not going to tell you. (Laughs.) But I’m always gonna be a hip-hop head for life.