LL COOL J Reflects on 'Amazing' “NCIS” Run as His LA Character Sam Heads to Hawai'i: 'Let's Do This' (Exclusive)

Returning as Sam Hanna on 'NCIS: Hawai'i' "just felt right," he tells PEOPLE, adding he's enjoying the "good vibes" with Vanessa Lachey and the chance to be "handcuffing bad guys" again

<p>Karen Neal/CBS</p> LL COOL J as Sam Hanna in

Karen Neal/CBS

LL COOL J as Sam Hanna in 'NCIS: Hawai'i'

LL COOL J is stepping back into the NCIS universe — only this time, he's swapping big city energy for sand and surf!

In an exclusive conversation with PEOPLE ahead of his debut on NCIS: Hawai'i, the rapper, 56 opens about his return to the franchise and the "good energy" and "good vibes" he felt.

"It felt fun to me," he says, before adding how reprising his role as NCIS: LA's Sam Hanna "in a new scenario" was a great time. "It just felt right to me. It felt like, 'You know what? Let's have some fun. Let's do this.'"

<p>Karen Neal/CBS</p> Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant and LL COOL J as Sam Hanna in 'NCIS: Hawai'i'

Karen Neal/CBS

Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant and LL COOL J as Sam Hanna in 'NCIS: Hawai'i'

Related: LL Cool J Joins 'NCIS: Hawai'i' Season 3 as Sam Hanna: 'Looking Out for You'

LL COOL J notes that his tenure on the Los Angeles-based spinoff series concluded in a way that was "open-ended" and shares how his stint in Hawai'i will allow viewers to delve deeper into Sam's story.

"The story definitely wasn't over at all, that's for sure," he explains. "We're finding out more about Sam, but remember, this is a different thing because Sam was transferred here."

Though he doesn't know "how long Sam is going to be here" and how many episodes fans can expect to see him in this season, the "Doin' It" artist shares he's taking things "one step at a time."

"I'm in the dark as much as the audience. We're just having fun with it," he laughs.

<p>Karen Neal/CBS</p> LL COOL J as Sam Hanna and Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant in 'NCIS: Hawai'i'

Karen Neal/CBS

LL COOL J as Sam Hanna and Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant in 'NCIS: Hawai'i'

Related: LL Cool J 'Didn't Read the Final Script' for 'NCIS: LA' Before Filming: 'I Let It Surprise Me' (Exclusive)

The Grammy award-winning artist also reveals that his "chemistry" with series lead, Vanessa Lachey, was a "good vibe."

"I think it's good energy," he says of Lachey, 43. "She's a lot of fun. I'm really happy for her, happy for the success that she's enjoying with the show, and I look forward to making my contribution in the episodes that I appear and just hopefully making the show that much more enjoyable."

Reflecting on NCIS' "amazing" upcoming 1000 episode milestone in April, LL COOL J acknowledges how "good" it feels to have contributed to the feat.

"I think that that's an amazing milestone. I'm so glad that I'm able to be part of something so special and unique in history, one of the longest running franchises in television history," he says. "It feels amazing. So I look forward to seeing how people respond when they finally get a chance to see what we do this year, or with this episode."

Related: Everything to Know About NCIS Hawaii Season 3

In terms of the show's longevity, LL COOL J credits "the humor, the banter [and] the action" the franchise is known for for its ability to endure over the years.

Noting how the show wouldn't have been able to survive without the dedication of its viewers, he says that only fans will know the secret to its success.

"Ultimately, the fans got to answer that question. They can answer that question better than I can, but they know why they're turning it on to watch," he says.

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NCIS: Hawai'i  airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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