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EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW: LL Cool J On American Idol & The Future Of Music

Dec. 24 2010, Published 7:30 a.m. ET

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The tenth season of American Idol premieres on Fox on Wednesday, January 19 with new judges and a new attitude  -- so who better than rapper/actor LL Cool J to weigh in on Idol's return? 

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In an exclusive video interview with, the two-time Grammy Award winner -- himself a former guest judge on the show -- has nothing but praise for new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

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LL (who in real life goes by his birth name Todd Smith)  called Lopez “a good friend” and  Tyler a "legend."

LL also told us that while he likes the premise of American Idol -- to find fresh talent -- "sometimes, it gets embarrassing" when the lesser-talented contestants hit the stage.

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"For comic relief, it works," he said, “but some of those people, their dreams are being shattered ... it's still great to give people an opportunity.”

The NCIS: Los Angeles star, who said he  himself  loves to mentor young artists, told us about an endeavor he's working on to further bring tomorrow's superstars of the stage out of the woodwork.

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" is a digital distribution network I set up to bring artists together," he said, adding the website aims to promote collaborations, innovations and "help artists take their careers to the next level."

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LL gave an example of a young artist named Squeak Jackson, whose single debuted to a tepid response on iTunes.

When Jackson uploaded his song to, a Korean boy band liked it and remade it. The single recently debuted in the top ten on charts overseas, enabling Jackson to begin reaping the fruits -- i.e. royalties -- of his labor.

"It's a hit! We're gonna replicate that motto and continue to give artists an opportunity," LL said. 

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We spoke with LL recently at the Gendarmie spa in West Hollywood, where he exclusively announced to that he had bought into the world-famous Gendarme fragrance line, and was named a vice-president of the company.


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