Did any of those artists you beefed with get under your skin?
Every one of those songs had to have gotten under my skin or else I wouldn't have responded [Laughs]. They all got under my skin. Deeply. I looked down at my arm, I saw Kool Moe Dee crawling under my skin. When I looked at the other arm, I saw Canibus crawling under my skin. Yeah. But people don't respond unless it's under their skin. You can't pretend that you're above it. I wasn't.
What was it like to have your latest Number One, "Luv U Better," go to the top?
I'll be honest with you. I don't follow the charts. I made a record called "Ill Bomb." Google: "Ill Bomb" by LL; it was on Live at the Tunnel, the Funk Flex album. That record was huge underground in the streets. Once I put a record out, once it's appreciated, that's all I really need. I'm not trying to discredit the charts, because I'll take all the Number Ones I can get. But that was never my aim. I think I had one Number One album, G.O.A.T., which was the most profanity-ridden, non-commercial, album I've ever had. That was the one on the charts that got no airplay. That's never been my game.
Your acting portfolio is pretty strong, but is there anything you look back on and think: Maybe I shouldn't have done that?
Um, yes there is. There are movies that weren't my favorite. A movie like Rollerball wasn't my favorite after I saw it. I thought it would have been a lot better than it was. But it motivated me to want to do better work and find better scripts. You can't win a championship every year. But either way, you have a champion-level pedigree. And you know that when you lose, you don't hold your head down. You get back to the drawing board.
What do you consider your first major role, where you felt you'd arrived as an actor?
Probably Toys. The Hard Way was good, too, but working with Robin Williams so closely, it was amazing. It was just so different, in such a different world. It's always interesting when you're the biggest fish in one pond and then you go into another ocean and find out you're a guppy to this group of people. And challenging and rewarding. I remember saying to myself, "Damn, I wish Toys was like Mrs. Doubtfire." It was his very next movie and it was an explosion. I was nervous on set. I did a scene with Debi Mazar. I was so nervous that at one point, we was doing a love scene and she started kissing me, and I threw something to deflect it off of me. I didn't understand it. I was like a foreign animal in a civilized environment. I didn't understand it. Because nobody talked about that. That was just me being green.
What's next for you?
As far as Authentic is concerned, I hope people like it. Just the feedback of a song like "Taken," featuring Joe, is getting at radio is amazing. It's been slow, but it's been steady and it's growing. I also know that it's very unusual in hip-hop for an artist who's been around so long to be able to put music out that people consider relevant. I understand that’s a perception I have to overcome. But that's just part of the challenges of trying to be the best. Sometimes, you come back from behind and win at the buzzer, and sometimes you blow them out at the gate. But at the end of the day, a win's a win.