Queen Latifah Returns to Hip-Hop With Dr. Dre on LP She Nearly Named "The L Word"

September 12, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Queen Latifah considered naming her new hip-hop album The L Word "just to mess with people's heads." The New Jersey rapper/actress has endured much speculation about her sexuality because she doesn't discuss her personal life and played a lesbian in the 1996 film Set It Off. "L was gonna stand for love though or La," she laughs. "Since people want to play games, I like to jab back sometimes just for fun, but I'm like, 'Nah, that's too much energy wasted.' "

Latifah calls the new album (due in December) "banging" and plans to hit the road next year. She's been working with LL Cool J and Dr. Dre. "They pretty much did the whole album," Latifah said during a small roundtable interview to promote her new film The Secret Life of Bees, which also stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning and Sophie Okonedo. "My boy Kenny Flav did one track and I think might do two more. Missy [Elliott] and Swizz Beatz are the only two people I have left. But they're mixing it right now."

Latifah, whose last album, 2007's Trav'lin Light, was a collection of jazz and R&B standards, says she "just about" wrote all the rhymes for it. "Dre helped me write some stuff. He wrote some stuff with me and Ludicris wrote a record for me." Lyrically it covers a range of topics, she says. "A lot of love on there. People, dealing with people, how people do all kinds of things, but then you're like, 'You know what? They're just people.' "Just like the media," she adds. "You read something in the paper and just when I start to get mad, I'm like, 'You know what? They're just people.' People do stuff. People will let you down. They won't be around, but hey they're just people, what are you gonna do?"

The as-yet-undecided first single should drop within the month. And Latifah says since she jetted away for a break, she's not even sure what the finished product will sound like. "I did all my parts and then I went on vacation. So they put people on it while I was gone and they've been waiting to talk to me to surprise me," she adds (though she is certain Busta Rhymes makes a cameo). "I'm actually supposed to talk to them and find out who the hell is on that damn album. I'm sure there is no one on there I don't like."

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