LOS ANGELES, Calif. - As host of the Grammy Awards for the third straight year, LL Cool J is supposed to be objective.
So he couldn't go into much detail when asked what it meant to have two hip-hop records nominated for album of the year at this year's show — Kendrick Lamar's "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City" and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "The Heist" — for the first time in a decade, and after two years in a row in which no rap albums made the cut at all.
But the grin that spread across his face helped to fill in some of the blanks.
"I can't speak really from the heart honestly, because I'm hosting and I hang out with Neil Portnow of the Recording Academy, but let's just say I think it's cool — how about that?" the legendary New York rapper said with a broad smile after running through his lines as host.
"I'm not really allowed to be a fan of anyone in particular," he added slyly, "but I'm happy for them."
The "NCIS: Los Angeles" star was equally coy when asked about the unconfirmed collaboration between Jay Z and Beyonce thought to be taking place at Sunday's Grammys, to be broadcast in Canada on Citytv.
"I keep hearing that rumour but I can't confirm or deny it," he said with a laugh. "I just say don't miss the opening."
What about the opening?
"You're going to have to wait and see. Be at your television set early. Have everything in front of you. If you're going to be texting and doing your thing, tweeting and all that, have your phone ready. Don't have to go into the other room.
"It's going to be on and popping baby."
He was willing to weigh in a little less cryptically about some of the night's other featured artists. Three-time nominee and Canadian citizen Robin Thicke, for instance? "I think he's going to kill it with Chicago." And celebrated newcomer Lorde? "I think she's young and in charge. She's going to tear it up. She's royal."
As far as his hosting duties, he's prepared. He thinks.
"I promise you I'm ready. I hope I'm ready. I believe I'm ready."
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