LL Cool J
LL Cool J
James Todd Smith (born January 14, 1968), better known as LL Cool J, for Ladies Love Cool James ), is an American rapper, entrepreneur, and actor from Bay Shore, New York. He is known for romantic ballads such as "I Need Love", "Around the Way Girl" and "Hey Lover" as well as pioneering hip-hop such as "I Can't Live Without My Radio", "I'm Bad", "The Boomin' System", and "Mama Said Knock You Out". He has released thirteen studio albums and two greatest hits compilations, including 2008's Exit 13, the last for his record deal with Def Jam Recordings, and currently has a new studio album in the works. He has also appeared in numerous films, including Halloween H20: 20 Twenty Years Later, and currently stars as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS crime drama television series NCIS: Los Angeles.
Radio was released to critical acclaim, both for production innovation and LL's powerful rap. "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells" were singles that helped the album go platinum with 1,500,000 sales.
Bigger and Deffer (1987)
LL Cool J's second album was 1987's Bigger and Deffer. The album featured the singles I'm Bad, I Need Love, Bristol Hotel and Go Cut Creator Go.
Walking with a Panther (1989)
LL Cool J's third album was 1989's Walking with a Panther. The album featured the singles "Going Back to Cali", "I'm That Type of Guy", "Jingling Baby", and "Big Ole Butt" and went platinum with 1,100,000 sales.
Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)
As an answer to people saying that his music had become too soft due to the inclusion of several ballads on his previous album, LL Cool J released Mama Said Knock You Out. The album was originally intended for a collaboration with the Beetles and Jim Brown (former running back of the Cleveland Browns). The album was fully produced by Juice Crew producer Marley Marl, one of the premier producers in the hip-hop industry at the time. Mama Said Knock You Out contained three singles, "The Boomin' System", "Around the Way Girl", and the title track, which he performed during an episode of MTV Unplugged. It was also featured in the film The Hard Way. The album went on to sell over 2,700,000 copies.
14 Shots to the Dome (1993)
After acting in The Hard Way and Toys, LL Cool J released 14 Shots to the Dome. The album had three singles ("How I'm Comin'", "Back Seat" and the strangely titled "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings") and guest-featured labelmates Lords of the Underground on "NFA-No Frontin' Allowed". The album went gold.
Mr. Smith (1995)
LL Cool J starred in In the House, an NBC sitcom, before releasing Mr. Smith (1995), which went on to sell over two million copies. Its singles included "Doin' It" (that samples "My Jamaican Guy" by Grace Jones) and "Loungin" (that samples "Who Do You Love?" by Bernard Wright). Another of the album's singles, "Hey Lover", featured Boyz II Men sampling Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life," which eventually became one of the first hip-hop music videos to air on VH1. The song also earned him a Grammy Award. Yet another single from the album, "I Shot Ya Remix", included vocal work by Foxy Brown.
All World: Greatest Hits (1996)
In 1996, Def Jam released this "greatest hits" package, offering a good summary of Cool J's career, from the relentless minimalism of early hits such as "Rock the Bells" to the smooth-talking braggadocio that followed. Classic albums including Bigger and Deffer and Mama Said Knock You Out are well represented here.
In 1997, he released the album Phenomenon. The singles included "Phenomenon" and "Father". The official second single from Phenomenon was "4, 3, 2, 1," which featured Method Man, Redman & Master P and introduced DMX and Canibus.
In 2000, LL Cool J released the album G.O.A.T., which stood for the "greatest of all time." It debuted at number one on the Billboard album charts, and went platinum. LL Cool J thanked Canibus in the liner notes of the album, "for the inspiration".
LL Cool J's next album 10 from 2002, was his 9th studio (10th overall including his greatest hits compilation All World), and included the singles "Paradise" (featuring Amerie), "Luv U Better", produced by Pharrell and The Neptunes and the 2003 Jennifer Lopez duet, "All I Have". The album reached platinum status.
The DEFinition (2004)
LL Cool J's 10th album The DEFinition was released on August 31, 2004. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts. Production came from Timbaland, 7 Aurelius, R. Kelly, and others. The lead single was the Timbaland-produced "Headsprung", which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single was the 7 Aurelius–produced, "Hush", which peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 10.
Todd Smith (2006)
LL Cool J's 11th album, Todd Smith, was released on April 11, 2006. It includes collaborations with 112, Ginuwine, Juelz Santana, Teairra Mari and Freeway. The first single was the Jermaine Dupri-produced "Control Myself" featuring Jennifer Lopez. They shot the video for "Control Myself" on January 2, 2006 at Sony Studios, New York. The second video, directed by Hype Williams, was "Freeze" featuring Lyfe Jennings.
Exit 13 (2008)
In July 2006, LL Cool J announced details about his final album with Def Jam Recordings, the only label he has ever been signed to. The album is titled Exit 13. The album was originally scheduled to be executively produced by fellow Queens rapper 50 Cent. Exit 13 was originally slated for a fall 2006 release, however, after a 2-year delay, it was released September 9, 2008 without 50 Cent as the executive producer. Tracks that the two worked on were leaked to the internet and some of the tracks produced with 50 made it to Exit 13.
LL Cool J partnered with DJ Kay Slay to release a mixtape called "The Return of the G.O.A.T.". It was the first mixtape of his 24-year career and includes freestyling by LL Cool J in addition to other rappers giving their renditions of his songs. A track entitled "Hi Haterz" was leaked onto the internet on June 1, 2008. The song contains LL Cool J rapping over the instrumental to Maino's "Hi Hater". He toured with Janet Jackson on her Rock Witchu tour, only playing in Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, and Kansas City.
NCIS: No Crew Is Superior (2009)
In September 2009, LL Cool J released a song about the NCIS TV series. It is a single and is available on iTunes. The new track is based on his experiences playing special agent Sam Hanna. "This song is the musical interpretation of what I felt after meeting with NCIS agents, experienced Marines and Navy SEALs," LL Cool J said. "It represents the collective energy in the room. I was so inspired I wrote the song on set."
Touring, collaborations and new album (present)
In March 2011 at South by Southwest, LL Cool J was revealed to be Z-Trip's special guest at the Red Bull Thre3Style showcase. This marked the beginning of a creative collaboration between the rap and DJ superstars. The two took part in an interview with Carson Daly where they discussed their partnership. Both artists have promised future collaborations down the road, with LL Cool J calling the duo "organic" One early track to feature LL's talents was Z-Trip's remix of British rock act Kasabian's single "Days Are Forgotten", which was named by influential DJ Zane Lowe as his "Hottest Record In The World" and received a favorable reception in both Belgium and the United Kingdom. In January 2012, the pair released the track "Super Baller" as a free download to celebrate the New York Giants Super Bowl victory. The two have been touring together since 2011, with future dates planned through 2012 and beyond.
As of June 2012, LL Cool J has begun work on his thirteenth studio album. He states, "I'm going to be doing a little bit of the album on the [My Connect Studio], make sure that it is official."
On October 6, 2012, LL Cool J drops a new single for his upcoming album titled Authentic Hip-Hop called "Ratchet".
On November 3, 2012, LL Cool J collaborates with the elegant and smooth Joe and producers Trackmasters with his 2nd single, "Take It".
While LL Cool J first appeared as a rapper in the movie Krush Groove (performing "I Can't Live Without My Radio"), his first acting part was a small role in a high school football movie called Wildcats. He continued to pursue acting, landing the role of Captain Patrick Zevo in the 1992 film Toys in which he shared the silver screen with Robin Williams. In 1995, when he landed his own television sitcom, In the House. He starred as an ex-Oakland Raiders running back who finds himself in financial difficulties and is forced to rent part of his home out to a single mother and her two children.
In 1998, he had a role in the film Halloween H20. In 1999's Deep Blue Sea, he played the wise-cracking cook on a top-secret sea base besieged by genetically enhanced sharks. He received rave reviews for his role as Dwayne Gittens, an underworld boss, nicknamed "God" in In Too Deep. Later that year, he had a starring role in Any Given Sunday, in which he played Julian Washington, the talented but selfish running back on the dysfunctional Miami Sharks. Since then, LL Cool J has appeared in a variety of films, such as the 2002 remake of Rollerball, Deliver Us from Eva, Mindhunters, and S.W.A.T.
In 2005, he returned to television in a guest starring role on the Fox medical drama House as a death row inmate felled by an unknown disease.
LL Cool J also appeared as Queen Latifah's love interest in the 2006 movie Last Holiday.
He also guest starred on 30 Rock in the 2007 episode "The Source Awards" as the hip-hop producer Ridiculous, who Tracy Jordan fears is going to kill him.
LL Cool J appeared in Sesame Street's 39th season where he introduced the word of the day, "Unanimous", in episode 4169 (Sept. 22, 2008) and performing "The Addition Expedition" in episode 4172 (Sept. 30, 2008).
LL Cool J is currently a series regular on the CBS police procedural NCIS: Los Angeles, a spin-off of NCIS (which itself is a spin-off of the naval legal drama JAG). He portrays NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna, an ex–Navy SEAL who is fluent in Arabic and an expert on West Asian culture. The series debuted in autumn of 2009, but the characters were introduced in an April 2009 crossover episode on the parent show.
LL Cool J appeared in a cameo role, where he is credited with being the product lead of Google's Gmail Tap, an April Fool's Day joke launched by the Gmail team, purporting to bring a Morse Code keyboard to the platform.
LL Cool J is speculated to appear in the upcoming superhero movie, The Justice League. The story was first reported by the Internet Box Podcast.
Other works and venture
LL Cool J worked behind the scenes with the mid-1980s hip-hop sportswear line TROOP. In the mid-1990s, he also helped to launch the clothing line FUBU.
LL Cool J launched a clothing line (called "Todd Smith"). The brand produces popular urban apparel. Designs include influences from LL's lyrics and tattoos, as well as from other icons in the hip-hop community.
LL Cool J had a line of men's footwear called Najee, named after his son. They were produced for only a short time and are very rare and collectible. The slogan attached to the line of shoes on an aluminum dog tag was "This is personal". The box had the logo signed by LL Cool J on it, as well.
LL Cool J has written four books, including 1998's I Make My Own Rules, an autobiography cowritten with Karen Hunter. His second book was the children-oriented book called And The Winner Is... published in 2002. In 2006, LL Cool J and his personal trainer, Dave "Scooter" Honig, wrote a fitness book titled The Platinum Workout. His fourth book, LL Cool J (Hip-Hop Stars) was cowritten in 2007 with hip-hop historian Dustin Shekell and Public Enemy's Chuck D.
Businessman and entrepreneur
LL Cool J started his own businesses in the music industry such as the music label in 1993 called P.O.G. (Power Of God) and formed the company Rock The Bells to produce music. With the Rock The Bells label, he had artists such as Amyth, Smokeman, Natice, Chantel Jones and Simone Starks. Rock the Bells Records was also responsible for the Deep Blue Sea soundtrack for the 1999 movie of the same name. Rufus "Scola" Waller was also signed to the label, but was released when the label folded.
LL Cool J appears in the music video "Mrs. Right" by Mindless Behavior.
LL Cool J founded and launched Boomdizzle.com, a record label / social networking site launched in September 2008. The website accepts music uploads from aspiring artists, primarily from the hip-hop genre, and the site's users rate songs through contests, voting, and other community events.
LL Cool J was born in Bay Shore, New York, the son of Ondrea and James Smith. He married Simone I. Johnson, on August 9, 1995 at his home in Long Island, New York. The couple have four children: son Najee Laurent Todd Eugene Smith (born September 18, 1989) and daughters Italia Anita Maria Smith (born January 3, 1991), Samaria Leah Wisdom Smith (born September 15, 1995) and Nina Simone Smith (born 2001). In 2002, he threw his support behind sitting Republican Governor of New York George Pataki's bid for a third term. In 2003, LL Cool J appeared before a senate committee hearing on P2P file-sharing, voicing his support alongside the RIAA, expressing that he just wished "music could be downloaded legitimately." He has also voiced his support for New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, during an appearance on the senator's local television show and has worked with Smith in putting on the annual Jump and Ball Tournament (since 2003) in the rapper's childhood neighborhood of St. Alban's, Queens. In a February 10, 2012 televised interview with CNN host Piers Morgan, LL Cool J expressed sympathy for President Barack Obama and ascribed negative impressions of his leadership to Republican obstruction designed to "make it look like you have a coordination problem." He was quick to add that no one "should assume that I'm a Democrat either. I'm an Independent, you know?" LL Cool J stopped an intruder allegedly attempting to burglarize his house on August 22, 2012, inflicting serious injury to the suspect.
Television and Filmography
Awards and nominations
||"Going Back To Cali"
||Best Rap Performance
||"Mama Said Knock You Out"
||Best Rap Solo Performance
||Best Rap Solo Performance
||"Stand By Your Man"
||Best Rap Solo Performance
||Best Rap Solo Performance
||Best Rap Album
||Best Rap Solo Performance
||"Luv U Better"
||Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
||Best Rap Album
MTV Video Music Awards
NAACP Image Awards
- 1996 – Best Rap Artist, for "Mr. Smith"
- 1997 – Best Rap Artist, for "Mr. Smith"
- 2001 – Outstanding Hip-Hop/Rap Artist, for "G.O.A.T."
- 2003 – Outstanding Male Artist
Soul Train Music Awards
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
The New York Music Awards
Soul Train Awards
Rock The Vote Award
- 1997 – "Patrick Lippert Award"'
- 2003 – Source Foundation Image Award, for "his community work"
Long Island Music Hall of Fame
- 2007 – Inducted as part of the Inaugural Class of Inductees for his contribution to Long Island's rich musical heritage
BET Hip Hop Awards
- 2011 – Honored with the I Am Hip Hop Award for his contributions to hip-hop culture