Lip Sync Battle host LL Cool J is ready to sync with music again

A dream match-up for Lip Sync Battle host LL Cool J (left) is one between United States President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
A dream match-up for Lip Sync Battle host LL Cool J (above) is one between United States President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.PHOTO: VIACOM INTERNATIONAL MEDIA NETWORKS

Lip Sync Battle host LL Cool J may return to the studio to make music for his fans from the show, which pits celebrities in hilarious sing-offs

These days, LL Cool J may be better known worldwide for his turn as the host of Lip Sync Battle, pitting celebrities against one another in hilarious, and sometimes elaborate, sing-offs. But 48-year-old LL, the moniker of New York-born James Todd Smith, has not forgotten his roots in music.

Speaking to The Straits Times from Los Angeles, having just filmed a special for Lip Sync Battle, the multi-hyphenate rapper, actor and host says he is considering making music again, now that he has a fanbase from the television show he has become synonymous with.

The Grammy winner for early 1990s hip-hop cuts such as Mama Said Knock You Out and Hey Lover says: "I've been thinking about possibly going back in the studio and putting out new music and letting new fans - who now know me from the show - hear what I do musically."

But it will not be a repeat of the old LL, who has 13 albums to his name and last released one in 2013.

"It won't be old school, but real new, fresh music," he teases.

But first, there is still Lip Sync Battle to get through. The wildly popular show by American cable channel Spike TV - executive- produced by talk-show host Jimmy Fallon and actors John Krasinski and Stephen Merchant - was renewed for a third season in January this year.

The second season is showing on Comedy Central Asia.

In Season 1, memorable sing-off segments that promptly went viral included actress Anne Hathaway swinging around on a wrecking ball to Miley Cyrus' song of the same name, and actress Anna Kendrick performing Booty with a special appearance by the song's original singer, Jennifer Lopez.

This time round, there are many more guest appearances, including pop star Beyonce joining actor Channing Tatum, kitted out in full drag, on a lip sync of her smash hit Run The World (Girls).

He says that the singer is a fan of the show and agreed to appear.

He recalls: "The audience, the raw energy, the vibe - people loved it, you know what I'm saying?"

Highlights of Season 2 include tantalising face-offs between model Gigi Hadid and Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey, and Star Trek cast members Zoe Saldana and Zachary Quinto.

"There's a lot of joy, a lot of passion that goes into it," LL says of the show, which has been a bit of a pop culture revelation, garnering international adaptations in Britain, South Africa and China, among others.

For him, it is all about the good vibes the show puts out with every episode. "There's music, laughing and having a good time - it's just loose, it feels good."

1 There have been almost 40 celebrity match-ups already, but which is the best one you've seen?

It's hard to say because there are so many people who have been so good. The ones that come to mind are Kevin Hart and Olivia Munn, Channing Tatum and his wife Jenna Dewan, and the first-ever episode with The Rock and Fallon. There have been so many great moments over the years. We're just enjoying the moments and just embracing it.

2 Two seasons into Lip Sync Battle, which individual has impressed you the most?

Channing Tatum was impressive. I'm not just saying that because he was on the premiere episode of Season 2. To add to that, Beyonce coming as a special guest and doing her thing side by side with Channing (dressed as her) was amazing.

3 There have been some pretty great ones, but what would be your dream match-up?

I usually say some kind of world leaders. You name it, whoever's your favourite world leader, whether current or former. Why not Barack Obama against Michelle Obama when they retire?

4 If you had to lip sync to a song, what would it be?

I know the song, but I never tell anyone because if it were to happen, I want to keep it a surprise. I don't want my potential competitors to know what I would choose because then they can counter my strategy.

5 With all that lip syncing you're surrounded by on the show, do you miss playing live?

I do. I miss getting out there and playing music. I would love to one day come to Singapore, play a concert and let the people hear what I do.

6 Who would you consider a formidable foe to go up against?

You know what I've learnt? Everybody's formidable. I don't underestimate anybody. There's no telling. I could go against Mickey Mouse, but it doesn't matter. Anybody can be anybody on any given day because it's all about the song choice.

7 The term "icon" is thrown around a lot with you, especially since you've done things in so many different fields. Does that ever get to you?

Not at all. I'm just grateful. If you have a career and you do a lot for a long time, people are going to start to respect you. I'm thankful for where I'm at in my career. I don't think I've ever been at a better place and I appreciate it.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

It's not all about what you have, it's about what you leave.

I just want to continue to entertain and help people feel better about their lives and escape their problems and troubles.

Hopefully, through my music and art, I'll do that for hundreds and hundreds of years. I'm pretty sure I will.

• Lip Sync Battle airs on Comedy Central Asia (Singtel TV Channel 324, StarHub TV Channel 516) every Tuesday and Wednesday at 8.30pm.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'Ready to sync with music again'. Print Edition | Subscribe