LL Cool J

  • Rapper born James Smith in 1968 in Bay Shore New York. The stage name LL Cool J stands for Ladies Love Cool James.
  • Smith started rapping at the age of 9, and by 16 he had created demo tapes. His first concert was at Manhattan Central High School – he rapped while his DJ, Cut Creator, worked the turntables. The girls in the audience were screaming, and LL was convinced that a rap career was for him – though at the time, rap music was just starting to become commercialized. He was signed to a record label, and his first single I Need a Beat was released in 1984.
  • His first studio album, Radio, was released in 1985. The singles I Can’t Live Without My Radio and Rock the Bells drove sales to over 1 million copies within 3 years. The album reached #46 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and #6 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. LL Cool J had become one of the first rap artists to have mainstream success. His appearance on American Bandstand in 1986 was the first hip-hop act on the show.
  • LL’s biggest success was his next album, released in 1987. Bigger and Deffer sold over 3 million albums in the U.S., and reached #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and #1 on the R&B chart – his first of 5 #1 albums on the R&B chart. The single I Need Love was his only #1 single on the R&B singles chart. His next album, 1989’s Walking With a Panther, included his first of 8 songs that have topped the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, which was created that year. The song, I’m That Type of Guy, includes a sample from The March of the Winkies from the film The Wizard of Oz.
  • During the 90s, he released 4 albums. His biggest hit during the decade was a collaboration with Boyz II Men, Hey Lover, which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song won the Grammy award in 1997 for Best Rap Solo Performance. He also won a Grammy in 1992 for Mama Said Knock You Out.
  • He became a successful actor during the 90s. His first film where he had a significant role was in 1992’s Toys, which starred Robin Williams. By 1995, he had his own TV sitcom, In the House, which had a run of 5 seasons. He has participated in 45 films and TV projects, including hosting the Grammy Awards 5 times. He currently stars in the TV series NCIS Los Angeles, which has been running since 2009.
  • In 2000, he released the album G.O.A.T., his eighth studio album. It is his only work that peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and it is his last album to sell over 1 million copies.
  • Jennifer Lopez hit #1 in 2002 with the song All I Have, which features LL Cool J rapping while J Lo sings. The song is the last of J Lo’s 4 songs that have reached #1.
  • There have been 5 more albums by LL Cool J since 2002, and a new album is planned.
  • In August 2017, it was announced that LL Cool J would be a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honors award in December. He is the first hip-hop artist to be given this prestigious award. In 2021, LL Cool J was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with a Musical Excellence Award.
  • Whether or not you like rap or hip-hop music, I give credibility to anyone that is part of the creation of a music genre, and LL Cool J qualifies as an innovator in this music. Here’s the video for his Grammy winner, Hey Lover. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *