LL Cool J Re-Creates 'Paradise,' Gives Thanks And Shares Pain

Rapper describes idyllic new video, remembers grandmother's last days.

It's a good thing that Thanksgiving only comes once a year or the J in LL Cool J might stand for his would-be jelly belly. When it comes to turkey day, his regular eating routine goes right out the window.

"I'm going to go home and see how much stuffing, pot roast and turkey — I'm trying to eat everything," the chiseled Cool J chuckled Friday on the Los Angeles set of his newest film, "S.W.A.T."

"I'm on a pretty strict diet. It's not uncomfortably strict, but it's not Thanksgiving. I am gonna absolutely wild out. I might lay on my back and eat. I gotta figure out a new way to eat. I may lay up on the table with the turkey."

As glorious as devouring the bird can be, lying on the dining room table is nothing compared to lying on the beaches of Hawaii. He recently completed the video for his next single, "Paradise," in Maui with a couple of special guests.

"Gabrielle Union is the co-star of the video, along with Amerie," LL

revealed. "Doing that video was like a straight-up fantasy. We had villas on the beach with no television. It was crazy, the look of it, the vibe of it. ... Black sand beaches, waterfalls — it's a whole 'nother thing. It has a little story in it. Me and the young lady, I'm taking her all throughout paradise. It's the ultimate vacation and we're having a lot of fun."

You wouldn't know it from the way they go at it in song, but LL also enjoyed himself while shooting the video for Jennifer Lopez's "All I Have" in New York last week (see "J. Lo, LL Cool J Star As Ex-Lovers In Lopez's Next Video").

"J. Lo is definitely one of the most focused people I ever met," he said. "I could see why she's so successful. She definitely has all the star qualities. We got along real well — we made a hot record too. ... I like it a lot. ... Me and her are getting into it, we had beef on the record. It ain't always peaches and cream. I am trying to reason with her but she ain't trying to hear it."

Word of mouth gets LL in a whole bunch of trouble in his next film.

"I'm shooting 'S.W.A.T.' right now with Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell," LL said. "Michelle Rodriguez is in it too. An international crime lord puts up $100 million for anyone who could break him out of police custody. It's unbelievable because every gang in the world is gunning for us. It's a lot of fun. It's a big Hollywood action joint. It's gonna be a lot of excitement."

Getting amped to shoot videos and movies hasn't been easy for the

rapper/actor the past couple of weeks. LL has needed a lot of family support after losing longtime friend Jam Master Jay and the person closest to him, his grandmother.

"A lot of people don't know, but me and Run-DMC and Jam Master Jay, we just did a Dr. Pepper commercial," the legendary MC disclosed. "I don't know if the commercial will ever be released; that's a decision Dr. Pepper would have to make. Either way, I would understand. Jam Master Jay and Run-DMC are absolutely three of the most important [people] to me in my life, just as friends. They taught me how to perform onstage, took me around the world on tour, put me in front of audiences, put me in their movie to give me a break and help me out.

"I honestly hope they catch who did it," he added, addressing Jay's slaying (see "Jam Master Jay, Run-DMC DJ, Killed In Shooting"). "I pray [Jay's] family is

OK. I pray God is merciful on his children and wife. ... We really gotta think before we act. I don't see how you can be happier after you take someone's life."

LL is thankful that he celebrated his grandmother's life in song before she passed away.

"Grandmother was definitely one of the muses in my life," he remembered. "I bought her a 14-karat gold casket. She had a police escort on her way out to the cemetery. I dug my hands in the dirt and buried her, was the first people to throw dirt on the grave. I did everything I could. I could look my grandfather in the eye and let him know I looked out for his wife with honor. That's all I could do. I'm not gonna lie to the public — I'm gutted like a fish.

"The song I made, 'Big Momma,' I played it for my grandmother in the

hospital," he revealed. "She played it every day in the hospital a week or two before she died. Requesting it, crying, laughing, listening. The blessing is that I got to make the record and she got to hear it."

LL's "Paradise" debuts on Wednesday, while his next film, "Deliver Us From Eva" (see "Usher, Mary J., 3LW To Appear On Soundtrack For LL Cool J Flick"), hits theaters in January. "Mindhunters" and "S.W.A.T." are scheduled for August 2003 release.