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Family, Good Food, Exercise? Way Cool


Unplugged. Unwired. Better yet, LL Cool J unrapped.

The rapper-actor kicked back at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles--where we ate wings 'n greens--after rehearsing his Marion Hill role on UPN's "In the House."

He sipped on an orange and yellow Sun Rise. "Have one," he offered. (His real name is James Todd Smith, born 29 years ago in Queens, New York.) "They're good."

This from a multi-platinum rapman who performed at the last two presidential inaugurals and nailed his second Grammy for rap solo performance last month and stars on a TV sitcom. He knows from good.

No alcohol in these Sun Rises, either. "Trust me," he said. The orange juice and lemonade concoction tasted just fine.

Question: So besides staying away from alcohol, what else is on your health program?

Answer: I just try to watch my diet, work out regularly and just drink a lot of water, orange and apple juice. I don't do drugs or anything like that. To me, it's important to stay committed to your kids. Without family, you know, you're living an unhealthy life.

And I think being spiritually grounded, you give off a glow, you know? Your body vibrates off a different energy so that adds to your health. Stress management, you know?

Q: I don't manage mine too well. What do you do?

A: Well, it's funny you say that because I look at it like this: I'm not sure there is such a thing as stress. I think that there are situations and how you react to them. If someone steps on your foot and you want to, you know, kick them in the knee cap, you can stress yourself out. But if you say, "You stepped on my foot," and they apologize, you can deal with it another way.

Q: Do you have to watch your weight?

A: Not particularly, no. I don't eat pork and I don't eat red meat, but I eat fish and chicken and stuff like that. I lost a lot of weight doing concerts--that's an aerobic workout and I sweat--but I'm gaining it back right now.

Q: What do you have for breakfast?

A: In particular? Sometimes I can have salmon and grits. Sometimes I can just have eggs, turkey sausage and grits. Sometimes I have cereal or oatmeal. Different days, different things.

Q: And what about lunch?

A: It can be anything from a slice of pizza to pasta to some chicken. You know what I mean. And dinner I love to eat different things. My wife--she governs my dinner situation. Say like, she'll leave me a message--"What do you want for dinner tonight?" So like, I eat different things, whatever she makes.

Q: So your wife cooks?

A: Yeah. Definitely. She wouldn't be my wife if she didn't.

(Peering over the Sun Rise, he chuckles and smiles, yeah, I said it.)

Q: Uh-huh. So what's one of your favorite home-cooked meals?

A: Oh, man, I mean everything. Just everything. You know, turkey, chicken, pasta--I mean everything. And my kids love to eat. Actually, my daughter eats a little bit better than my son. My son, now, he's real picky. Like if there's onions, he won't eat it and if there's this in it, he won't eat it.

Q: I wasn't allowed to be finicky. Were you?

A: Well, I wasn't allowed but I was a little bit too. A little bit. But I find that the things I hated as a kid, I like now. Like I hated candied yams, now I love them.

Q: What do you do to exercise?

A: Sometimes I run, sometimes I do weights. I have a whole bunch of weight equipment in my dressing room. Sometimes I don't do anything. You work out a little bit before tour and then when you get on tour, you get in shape. And me and my kids have a lot of fun. Sometimes we play with a medicine ball. You know, if you're exercising every day and eating right and you ignore your family, you're still living an unhealthy life, unhealthy spiritually.

The reality is--you need a balance to be healthy. Physical, mental and spiritual health all the way around the board. Then when people are around you, they feel the peace, and they feel the power and they feel calm.

Q: Do you listen to classical music?

A: Yeah. I like Mozart. As a matter of fact, I think that Mozart probably has the prettiest melodies of all the great classical composers. Interesting thing about Beethoven is him writing a lot of his greatest works when he was deaf, but I like Mozart--the piano, the pretty, pretty piano melodies.

Q: So where do you see yourself down the line?

A: I want to build my company. I want to expand my acting career, television to film. I want to make more music.

He handed over his business card. Ilion Recordings--LL Cool J, President. There's a drawing of a tree on the front of the card.

Yeah, that goes back to what I was saying about family. That tree represents a tree that's in my grandmother's yard, the street I grew up on.


So Says LL Cool J

Hey, kids. LL Cool J is asking: Are you exercising and eating properly? Are you feeding your mind? Are you reading? Are you praying? Are you feeding your spirit?

Listen up.

"The most important thing that you can do is stay away from the drugs and the alcohol. Don't have sex but if you're going to, practice safe sex."


"There's two educations--the one you get in school and the one you give yourself. You need both. The information you get in school is a foundation--then get out in the real world for experience. Inform yourself--now the information becomes knowledge. The education you give yourself is the one that's going to get your life on the right track or ruin. And so you go."

Guest Workout runs Wednesdays in Life & Style.

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