LL Cool J

Last updated

LL Cool J
LL Cool J in 2017.jpg
LL Cool J receiving the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors
Background information
Birth nameJames Todd Smith
Born (1968-01-14) January 14, 1968 (age 53)
Bay Shore, New York, U.S.
Origin Queens, New York, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s)
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
  • entrepreneur
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • turntables
  • drum machine
Years active1984–present
Labels
Website llcoolj.com

James Todd Smith (born January 14, 1968), better known by his stage name LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love CoolJames), [1] is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. [2] With the breakthrough success of his hit single "I Need a Beat" and the Radio LP, LL Cool J became an early hip-hop act to achieve mainstream success along with Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC.

Contents

LL Cool J has released 13 studio albums and two greatest hits compilations. His twelfth album Exit 13 (2008), was his last for his long-tenured deal with Def Jam Recordings. LL Cool J has appeared in numerous films, including In Too Deep , Any Given Sunday , Deep Blue Sea , S.W.A.T. , Mindhunters , and Edison . He currently plays NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna in the CBS crime drama television series NCIS: Los Angeles . LL Cool J also is the host of Lip Sync Battle on Paramount Network. [3]

A two-time Grammy Award winner, LL Cool J is known for hip hop hits such as "Going Back to Cali", "I'm Bad", "The Boomin' System", "Rock the Bells", and "Mama Said Knock You Out", as well as R&B hits such as "Doin' It", "I Need Love", "All I Have", "Around the Way Girl" and "Hey Lover". In 2010, VH1 placed him on their "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time" list. [4] In 2017, LL Cool J became the first rapper to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. [5]

Early life and family

James Todd Smith was born on January 14, 1968 in Bay Shore, New York to Ondrea Griffith (born January 19, 1946) and James Louis Smith Jr, [6] also known as James Nunya. [7] [8] [9] According to the Chicago Tribune , "[As] a kid growing up middle class and Catholic in Queens, life for LL was heart-breaking. His father shot his mother and grandfather, nearly killing them both. When 4-year-old LL found them, blood was everywhere." [10] In an episode of Finding Your Roots , Smith learned that his mother was adopted by Eugene Griffith and Ellen Hightower. The series' genetic genealogist CeCe Moore identified Smith's biological grandparents as Ethel Mae Jolly and Nathaniel Christy Lewis through analysis of his DNA. Smith's biological great-uncle was Hall of Fame boxer John Henry Lewis. [6]

Smith began rapping at the age of 9, influenced by the hip-hop group The Treacherous Three. In March 1984, sixteen-year-old Smith was creating demo tapes in his grandparents' home. [11] His grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, bought him $2,000 worth of equipment, including two turntables, an audio mixer and an amplifier. [12] His mother was also supportive of his musical endeavors, using her tax refund to buy him a Korg drum machine. [13] Smith has stated that by the time he received musical equipment from his relatives, he "was already a rapper. In this neighborhood, the kids grow up in rap. It's like speaking Spanish if you grow up in an all-Spanish house." [12] This was at the same time that NYU student Rick Rubin and promoter-manager Russell Simmons founded the then-independent Def Jam label. By using the mixer he had received from his grandfather, Smith produced and mixed his own demos and sent them to various record companies throughout New York City, including Def Jam. [12]

In the VH1 documentary Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation, Smith revealed that he initially wanted to call himself J-Ski but did not want to associate his stage name with the cocaine culture (The rappers who use "Ski" or "Blow" as part of their stage name, e.g., Kurtis Blow and Joeski Love, were associated with the rise of the cocaine culture, as depicted in the 1983 remake of Scarface .) Under his new stage name, LL Cool J (an abbreviation for Ladies Love CoolJames), [14] Smith was signed by Def Jam, which led to the release of his first official record, the 12-inch single "I Need a Beat" (1984). [11] The single was a hard-hitting, streetwise b-boy song with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. [11] Smith later discussed his search for a label, stating "I sent my demo to many different companies, but it was Def Jam where I found my home." [15] That same year, Smith made his professional debut concert performance at Manhattan Center High School. In a later interview, LL Cool J recalled the experience, stating "They pushed the lunch room tables together and me and my DJ, Cut Creator, started playing. ... As soon as it was over there were girls screaming and asking for autographs. Right then and there I said 'This is what I want to do'." [16] LL's debut single sold over 100,000 copies and helped establish both Def Jam as a label and Smith as a rapper. The commercial success of "I Need a Beat", along with the Beastie Boys' single "Rock Hard" (1984), helped lead Def Jam to a distribution deal with Columbia Records the following year. [17]

LL met Simone Johnson in the late 1980s. The couple had one son and one daughter together and married in 1995. Two more daughters followed. [18] [7] LL eventually reconciled with his father.[ when? ] [10] [8]

Musical career

1985–1987: Radio

Radio was released to critical acclaim, both for production innovation and LL's powerful rap. [19] Released November 18, 1985, on Def Jam Recordings in the United States, [20] Radio earned a significant amount of commercial success and sales for a hip hop record at the time. Shortly after its release, the album sold over 500,000 copies in its first five months, eventually selling over 1 million copies by 1988, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. [21] [22] Radio peaked at number 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at number 46 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. [23] It entered the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart on December 28, 1985, and remained there for forty-seven weeks, while also entering the Pop Albums chart on January 11, 1986, [23] remaining on that chart for thirty-eight weeks. [23] By 1989, the album had earned platinum status from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with sales exceeding one million copies; it had previously earned a gold certification in the United States on April 14, 1986. [22] "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells" were singles that helped the album go platinum. It eventually reached 1,500,000 copies sold in the US. [24]

With the breakthrough success of his hit single "I Need a Beat" and the Radio LP, LL Cool J became one of the early hip-hop acts to achieve mainstream success along with Kurtis Blow and Run-D.M.C.. Gigs at larger venues were offered to LL as he would join the 1986-'87 Raising Hell tour, opening for Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys. [25] Another milestone of LL's popularity was his appearance on American Bandstand as the first hip hop act on the show, [26] as well as an appearance on Diana Ross' 1987 television special, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues .

The album's success also helped in contributing to Rick Rubin's credibility and repertoire as a record producer. Radio, along with Raising Hell (1986) and Licensed to Ill (1986), would form a trilogy of New York City-based, Rubin-helmed albums that helped to diversify hip-hop. [27] [28] Rubin's production credit on the back cover reads "REDUCED BY RICK RUBIN", referring to his minimalist production style, which gave the album its stripped-down and gritty sound. This style would serve as one of Rubin's production trademarks and would have a great impact on future hip-hop productions. [29] Rubin's early hip hop production work, before his exit from Def Jam to Los Angeles, helped solidify his legacy as a hip hop pioneer and establish his reputation in the music industry. [29]

1987–1993: Breakthrough and success

LL Cool J's second album was 1987's Bigger and Deffer , which was produced by DJ Pooh and the L.A. Posse. [30] This stands as one of his biggest-selling career albums, having sold in excess of two million copies in the United States alone. [31] It spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard 's R&B albums chart. It also reached No. 3 on the Billboard's Pop albums chart. The album featured the singles "I'm Bad", the revolutionary "I Need Love" - LL's first #1 R&B and Top 40 hit, "Bristol Hotel", and "Go Cut Creator Go". While Bigger and Deffer, which was a big success, was produced by the L.A. Posse (at the time consisting of Dwayne Simon, Darryl Pierce and, according to himself the most important for crafting the sound of the LP, Bobby "Bobcat" Ervin), Dwayne Simon was the only one left willing to work on producing LL Cool J's third album Walking with a Panther . [32] Released in 1989, the album was a commercial success, with several charting singles ("Going Back to Cali," "I'm That Type of Guy," "Jingling Baby," "Big Ole Butt," and "One Shot at Love"). Despite commercial appeal, the album was often criticized by the hip-hop community as being too commercial and materialistic, and for focusing too much on love ballads. [33] As a result, his audience base began to decline due to the album's bold commercial and pop aspirations. [34] According to Billboard , the album peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and was LL Cool J's second #1 R&B Album where it spent four weeks.

In 1990, LL released Mama Said Knock You Out , his fourth studio album. The Marley Marl produced album received critical acclaim and eventually went double Platinum, selling over two million copies according to the RIAA. Mama Said Knock You Out marked a turning point in LL Cool J's career, as he proved to critics his ability to stay relevant and hard-edged despite the misgivings of his previous album. [34] LL won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1992 for the title track. The album's immense success propelled Mama Said Knock You Out to be LL's top selling album of his career (as of 2002) and solidified his status as a hip-hop icon. [34]

1993–2005: Continued success and career prominence

LL Cool J in 1999 LL.COOL J. 1999.jpg
LL Cool J in 1999

After acting in The Hard Way and Toys , LL Cool J released 14 Shots to the Dome . The album had four singles ("How I'm Comin'", "Back Seat (of My Jeep)", the strangely titled "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings", "Stand By Your Man") and guest-featured labelmates Lords of the Underground on "NFA-No Frontin' Allowed". The album went gold.

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" and "Loungin". Another of the album's singles, "Hey Lover", featured Boyz II Men, and sampled Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life"; it eventually became an early hip-hop music video to air on VH1.[ citation needed ] The song also earned him a Grammy Award. Yet another single from the album, "I Shot Ya Remix", included debut vocal work by Foxy Brown. 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 December 1996 his loose cover of the Rufus and Chaka Khan song "Ain't Nobody" was included on the Beavis and Butt-Head Do America soundtrack & released as a single. LL Cool J's interpretation of "Ain't Nobody" was particularly successful in the United Kingdom, where it topped the UK Singles Chart in early-1997. [35] In that same year, 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.

Ll cool j-01-mika.jpg
Ll cool j-04-mika.jpg
LL Cool J during a 2001 performance in Germany

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, [36] 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. LL Cool J's tenth 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 100.

2006–2012: Exit 13 and touring

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.

LL Cool J performing in Wilmington, Delaware in August 2008 LL Cool J performing in Wilmington, Delaware.jpg
LL Cool J performing in Wilmington, Delaware in August 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. [37] 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.

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." [38]

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. [39] Both artists have promised future collaborations down the road, with LL Cool J calling the duo "organic" [40] 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" [41] 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.

2012–present: Authentic, G.O.A.T. 2 and future projects

On October 6, 2012, LL Cool J released a new single from Authentic Hip-Hop called "Ratchet". Following that, on November 3, 2012, LL collaborated with Joe and producers Trackmasters with his 2nd single, "Take It".[ citation needed ]

On February 8, 2013, it was announced that the title of LL's upcoming album would be changed from Authentic Hip-Hop to Authentic with a new release date of April 30, 2013. A new cover was unveiled at the same time. [42] At around the same time, it was announced that LL Cool J had collaborated with Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen on two tracks on the album. [43] [44] [45]

On October 16, 2013, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced LL Cool J as a nominee for inclusion in 2014. [46]

In October 2014, LL announced that his 14th studio album would be called G.O.A.T. 2 and would be released in 2015. [47] LL stated that "the concept behind the album was to give upcoming artists an opportunity to shine, and put myself in the position where I have to spit bars with some of the hardest rhymers in the game"; however, the album was put on hold. LL Cool J explained the reason for it, saying, "It was good but I didn't feel like it was ready yet." [48]

On January 21, 2016, LL received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. [49]

In March 2016, LL announced his retirement on social media, but quickly walked back his announcement and indicated that a new album was on the way. [50] LL hosted the Grammy Awards Show for five consecutive years, from the 54th Grammy Awards on February 12, 2012 through the 58th Grammy Awards on February 15, 2016.[ citation needed ]

In October 2018, LL Cool J was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [51] In September 2019, it was announced that LL had re-signed to Def Jam for future album releases. [52]

Acting career

While LL Cool J first appeared as a rapper in the movie Krush Groove (performing "I Can't Live Without My Radio"), [53] his first acting part was a small role in a high school football movie called Wildcats . [54] He landed the role of Captain Patrick Zevo in Barry Levinson's 1992 film Toys . [55] From 1995–99, he starred in his own television sitcom In the House . He portrayed 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, one of whom moves out with her before the third season. [56]

In 1998, LL Cool J played security guard Ronny in Halloween H20 , the seventh movie in the Halloween franchise. [57] In 1999, co-starred as Preacher, the chef in the Renny Harlin horror/comedy Deep Blue Sea . [58] He received positive reviews for his role as Dwayne Gittens, an underworld boss nicknamed "God", in In Too Deep . [59] Later that year, he starred as Julian Washington—a talented but selfish running back on fictional professional football team the Miami Sharks—in Oliver Stone's drama Any Given Sunday . He and co-star Jamie Foxx allegedly got into a real fistfight while filming a fight scene. [60] During the next two years, LL Cool J appeared in Rollerball, [61] Deliver Us from Eva , [62] S.W.A.T. , [63] and Mindhunters . [64]

In 2005, he returned to television in a guest-starring role on the Fox medical drama House ; he portrayed a death row inmate felled by an unknown disease in an episode entitled "Acceptance". He appeared as Queen Latifah's love interest in the 2006 movie Last Holiday . [65] He also guest-starred on 30 Rock in the 2007 episode "The Source Awards", portraying a hip-hop producer called Ridikulous who Tracy Jordan fears may kill him. [66] LL Cool J appeared in Sesame Street's 39th season, introducing the word of the day--"Unanimous"—in episode 4169 (September 22, 2008) and performing "The Addition Expedition" in episode 4172 (September 30, 2008). [67]

Since 2009, LL Cool J has starred on the CBS police procedural NCIS: Los Angeles . The show is a spin-off of NCIS , which itself is a spin-off of the naval legal drama JAG . LL Cool J portrays NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna, an ex–Navy SEAL who is fluent in Arabic and is 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. [68] In 2013, LL received a Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actor: Action for his work on the show. [69]

In 2013, LL co-starred as a gym owner in the sports dramedy Grudge Match . [70] Since April 2015, LL has hosted the show Lip Sync Battle . [71]

Other ventures

LL Cool J worked behind the scenes with the mid-1980s hip-hop sportswear line TROOP. [72] LL Cool J launched a clothing line (called "Todd Smith"). [73] 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. [74] 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.

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, [75] 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. [76] 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. [77]

In March 2015, LL Cool J also appeared in an introduction to WrestleMania 31 . [78]

Political involvement

In 2002, LL Cool J supported George Pataki's bid for a third term as Governor of New York. [79] In 2003, LL Cool J spoke in support of P2P file-sharing at a U.S. Senate Committee hearing, stating that he wished "music could be downloaded legitimately." [80] He also voiced his support for New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, during an appearance on the senator's local television show; [81] he worked with Smith in putting on the annual Jump and Ball Tournament in the rapper's childhood neighborhood of St. Albans, Queens. [82] In a February 10, 2012 televised interview with CNN host Piers Morgan, LL Cool J expressed sympathy for President 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?" [83] In LL Cool J's Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle, he included Barack Obama in a list of people he admired, stating that Obama had "accomplished what people thought was impossible." [84]

Legacy

With the breakthrough success of his hit single "I Need a Beat" and the Radio LP, LL Cool J became an early hip-hop act to achieve mainstream success along with Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC. Gigs at larger venues were offered to LL as he would join the 1986-'87 Raising Hell tour, opening for Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys. [25] Another milestone of LL's popularity was his appearance on American Bandstand as the first hip hop act on the show. [26]

The album's success also helped in contributing to Rick Rubin's credibility and repertoire as a record producer. Radio, along with Raising Hell (1986) and Licensed to Ill (1986), would form a trilogy of New York City-based, Rubin-helmed albums that helped to diversify hip-hop. [27] [28] Rubin's production credit on the back cover reads "REDUCED BY RICK RUBIN", referring to his minimalist production style, which gave the album its stripped-down and gritty sound. This style would serve as one of Rubin's production trademarks and would have a great impact on future hip-hop productions. [29] Rubin's early hip hop production work, before his exit from Def Jam to Los Angeles, helped solidify his legacy as a hip hop pioneer and establish his reputation in the music industry. [29]

Radio's release coincided with the growing new school scene and subculture, which also marked the beginning of hip-hop's "golden age" and the replacement of old school hip hop. [85] This period of hip hop was marked by the end of the disco rap stylings of old school, which had flourished prior to the mid-1980s, and the rise of a new style featuring "ghetto blasters". Radio served as one of the earliest records, along with Run-D.M.C.'s debut album, to combine the vocal approach of hip hop and rapping with the musical arrangements and riffing sound of rock music, pioneering the rap rock hybrid sound. [86]

The emerging new school scene was initially characterized by drum machine-led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock, as well as boasts about rapping delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song, the artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the 1970s P-Funk and disco-influenced outfits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of acts prevalent in 1984, rendering them old school. [87] In contrast to the lengthy, jam-like form predominant throughout early hip hop ("King Tim III", "Rapper's Delight", "The Breaks"), new school artists tended to compose shorter songs that would be more accessible and had potential for radio play, and conceive more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts; the style typified by LL Cool J's Radio. [88] A leading example of the new school sound is the song "I Can't Live Without My Radio", a loud, defiant declaration of public loyalty to his boom box, which The New York Times described as "quintessential rap in its directness, immediacy and assertion of self". [12] It was featured in the film Krush Groove (1985), which was based on the rise of Def Jam and new school acts such as Run-D.M.C. and the Fat Boys. [89]

The energy and hardcore delivery and musical style of rapping featured on Radio, as well as other new school recordings by artists such as Run-D.M.C., Schooly D, T La Rock and Steady B, proved to be influential to hip hop acts of the "golden age" such as Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy. [90] The decline of the old school form of hip hop also led to the closing of Sugar Hill Records, one of the labels that helped contribute to early hip-hop and that, coincidentally, rejected LL's demo tape. [91] As the album served as an example of an expansion of hip hop music's artistic possibilities, its commercial success and distinct sound soon led to an increase in multi-racial audiences and listeners, adding to the legacy of the album and hip hop as well. [86] [92]

In 2017, LL Cool J became the first rapper to receive Kennedy Center Honors. [5]

Discography

Studio albums

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1985 Krush Groove Himself
1986 Big Fun In The Big Town In this Dutch TV documentary LL Cool J is one of the many hip-hop artists being interviewed. He was very young at the time of recording, and still lived at his grandmother's house.
Wildcats Rapper
1991 The Hard Way Detective Billy, NYPD
1992 Toys Captain Patrick Zevo
1993 The Adventures of Pete & Pete Pete's Teacher
1995 Out-of-Sync Jason St. Julian
1995–99 In the House Marion Hill
1997 B*A*P*S Himself
1998 Caught Up Roger
All That Himself
Oz Jiggy Walker
Woo Darryl
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Ronald "Ronny" Jones
1999 Deep Blue Sea Sherman "Preacher" Dudley
In Too Deep Dwayne Keith "God" Gittens
Any Given Sunday Julian "J-Man" Washington
2000 Charlie's Angels Mr. Jones
2001 Kingdom Come Ray Bud Slocumb
2002 Rollerball Marcus Ridley
2002 WWE SmackDown Himself
2003 Deliver Us from Eva Raymond "Ray" Adams
S.W.A.T. Officer Deacon "Deke" Kaye
2004 Mindhunters Gabe Jensen
2005 Edison Officer Rafe Deed
Slow Burn Luther Pinks
House ClarenceEpisode: "Acceptance" (Season 2; episode 1)
2006 Last Holiday Sean Williams
2007The ManManny Baxter
30 Rock Ridikolus
2008 The Deal Bobby Mason
2009 WWII in HD Shelby Westbrook [93] Voice
NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna [94] 2 episodes
2009–present NCIS: Los Angeles Sam Hanna
2009–11 The Electric Company Himself
2011 Sesame Street
2012 Hawaii Five-0 Special Agent Sam Hanna Crossover episode: "Pa Make Loa"
54th Annual Grammy Awards HostTV Special
2013 55th Annual Grammy Awards
Grudge Match Frankie Brite
2014 56th Annual Grammy Awards HostTV Special
2015 57th Annual Grammy Awards
2015–present Lip Sync Battle [95] TV Series on Spike
2016 58th Annual Grammy Awards TV Special
2017 American Dad! Sam Hanna

Awards and nominations

Music

Grammy Awards

YearNominated workAwardResultRef
1989 "Going Back To Cali" Best Rap Performance Nominated [96]
1992 "Mama Said Knock You Out" Best Rap Solo Performance Won [97]
1993 "Strictly Business"Nominated [98]
1994 "Stand By Your Man"Nominated [99]
1997 "Hey Lover"Won [100]
1997 Mr. Smith Best Rap Album Nominated [100]
1998 "Ain't Nobody" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated [101]
2004 "Luv U Better" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated [102]
2005 The DEFinition Best Rap Album Nominated [103]

MTV Video Music Awards

YearNominated workAwardResultRef
1991 "Mama Said Knock You Out" Best Rap Video Won [104]
Best Cinematography in a Video Nominated [104]
1996 "Doin' It"Best Rap VideoNominated [105]
1997 Lifetime Achievement Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award Won [106]

NAACP Image Awards

YearNominated WorkCategoryResultRef
1996 Mr. Smith Best Rap ArtistWon [107]
1997 Phenomenon Best Rap ArtistWon
2001 G.O.A.T. Outstanding Hip-Hop/Rap ArtistWon [108]
2003 10 Outstanding Male ArtistWon [109]

Soul Train Music Awards

YearNominated WorkCategoryResultRef
1987 Radio Best Rap AlbumNominated [110]
1988 Bigger and Deffer Best Rap AlbumWon [111]
"I Need Love"Best Rap SingleWon [112]
1991 Mama Said Knock You Out Best Rap AlbumNominated [113]
2003 10 Best R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the YearNominated [114]
Outstanding Career Achievements in the Field of Entertainment Quincy Jones Award Won [115]
2005"Headsprung"Best R&B/Soul or Rap Dance CutNominated [116]

Other Music Awards

  • 1991 Billboard Top Rap Singles Artist [117]
  • 1997 Patrick Lippert Award, Rock The Vote [118]
  • 2007 Long Island Music Hall of Fame, Inducted as part of the Inaugural Class of Inductees for his contribution to Long Island's rich musical heritage [119]
  • 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards, Honored with the I Am Hip Hop Award for his contributions to hip-hop culture [120]
  • LL Cool J has been nominated 6 times for induction into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. He has been nominated in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019, and 2021. [121]

Acting

YearAwardCategoryWorkResultRef
1996 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesIn the HouseNominated [107]
1997 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Television ActorNominated[ citation needed ]
1998 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesNominated [122]
2000Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion PictureDeep Blue SeaNominated [123]
Blockbuster Entertainment Award Favorite Supporting Actor – ActionWon [124]
2004 Black Reel Awards Best ActorDeliver Us from EvaNominated [125]
2006 Teen Choice Awards Award for Choice Movie: Liplock (shared with Queen Latifah)Last HolidayNominated [126]
2011 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesNCIS: Los AngelesWon [127]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: ActionNominated [128]
2012 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesWon [129]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: ActionNominated [130]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Special Class ProgramsThe 54th Annual Grammy AwardsNominated [131]
2013 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesNCIS: Los AngelesWon [132]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: ActionWon [133]
2014 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesWon [134]
Prism AwardsMale Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode StorylineNominated [135]
2015 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesNominated [136]
2016Outstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesNominated [137]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Structured Reality ProgramLip Sync BattleNominated [138]
People's Choice Awards Favorite TV Crime Drama ActorNCIS: Los AngelesNominated [139]
2017Favorite TV Crime Drama ActorNominated [140]

Other honors

Related Research Articles

New school hip hop Movement in hip hop music

The new school of hip hop was a movement in hip hop music starting 1983–84 with the early records of Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J. Like the hip hop preceding it, it came predominantly from New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by drum machine led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock. It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco influenced outfits, novelty hits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of artists prevalent in 1984, and rendered them old school. New school artists made shorter songs that could more easily gain radio play, and more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts. By 1986 their releases began to establish the hip hop album as a fixture of the mainstream.

<i>Radio</i> (LL Cool J album) 1985 studio album by LL Cool J

Radio is the debut album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was released on November 18, 1985, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. It was also Def Jam's first full-length album release.

Rick Rubin American music producer

Frederick Jay "Rick" Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and also established American Recordings. With the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, and Run-DMC, Rubin helped popularize hip hop music.

The Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance is an honor presented to recording artists for quality rap performances. It was first presented at the 31st Annual Grammy Awards in 1989 and again at the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards in 1990, after which point the award was split into two categories: Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. These two categories were combined again in 2012 as a result of a restructure of Grammy categories, and the reinstated Award for Best Rap Performance was presented at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012. The restructuring was the consequence of the Recording Academy's wish to decrease the number of categories and awards and to eliminate distinctions between solo and duo or group performances.

Def Jam Recordings American record label

Def Jam Recordings is an American multinational record label based in Manhattan. Def Jam has focused predominantly on hip hop, pop and urban music, owned by Universal Music Group. In the UK, the label was known as Def Jam UK and was operated through EMI Records, while in Japan, it is known as Def Jam Japan, operating through Universal Music Japan. The label distributes releases of various record labels, including Kanye West's GOOD Music, and Listen Up Forever Records, headed by producer, Ronny J. Current artists include Justin Bieber, Logic, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz, Teyana Taylor, YG, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Valee, Pusha T, Amir Obè, Fabolous, Krept and Konan, Ja Rule, Desiigner, Rihanna and Nasty C.

<i>Krush Groove</i>

Krush Groove is a 1985 American musical comedy-drama film distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz. This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons, portrayed by Blair Underwood in his feature film debut. Simmons was the film's co-producer and story consultant; he also had a cameo in the film as a club owner named Crocket.

<i>Hip Hop Is Dead</i> 2006 studio album by Nas

Hip Hop Is Dead is the eighth studio album by American rapper Nas, released December 19, 2006 on Def Jam Recordings. His first album for the label, it was co-financed by Nas's previous label, Columbia Records, which once distributed for Def Jam. The album's title was inspired by Nas's view of the music industry and the state of hip hop music at the time. The album features appearances from Nas’ then wife Kelis, Kanye West, Jay-Z, will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, The Game and Chrisette Michele, among others.

<i>Walking with a Panther</i> 1989 studio album by LL Cool J

Walking with a Panther is the third studio album by American hip hop recording artist LL Cool J, released June 9, 1989, on Def Jam Recordings.

<i>Mama Said Knock You Out</i> 1990 studio album by LL Cool J

Mama Said Knock You Out is the fourth studio album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was produced mostly by Marley Marl and recorded at his "House of Hits" home studio in Chestnut Ridge and at Chung King House of Metal in New York City. After the disappointing reception of LL Cool's 1989 album Walking with a Panther, Mama Said Knock You Out was released by Def Jam Recordings on September 14, 1990 to commercial and critical success.

<i>10</i> (LL Cool J album) 2002 studio album by LL Cool J

10 is the ninth studio album by American rapper LL Cool J, released on October 15, 2002 by Def Jam Recordings. It peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200. LL Cool J and 10 hit a milestone in Def Jam history, being the first artist ever on Def Jam to have ten albums under the same record label. It reached number 26 on the UK Albums Chart, making it LL Cool J's highest charting album there to date.

<i>Mr. Smith</i> (album) 1995 studio album by LL Cool J

Mr. Smith is the sixth studio album by American hip hop recording artist LL Cool J, released on November 21, 1995 by Def Jam. The album has been certified Double Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

<i>Todd Smith</i> (album) 2006 studio album by LL Cool J

Todd Smith is the eleventh studio album by American rapper LL Cool J, released on April 11, 2006 by his label Def Jam Recordings. It includes collaborations with Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell, Juelz Santana, Teairra Mari, Jamie Foxx, Ginuwine, Mary J. Blige, 112, Mary Mary, Ryan Toby and Freeway.

<i>Exit 13</i> 2008 studio album by LL Cool J

Exit 13 is the twelfth studio album by American rapper LL Cool J. It was released on September 9, 2008 on the record label Def Jam Recordings. This would be his last album release with the label.

I Cant Live Without My Radio 1985 single by LL Cool J

"I Can't Live Without My Radio" is the lead single from LL Cool J's debut album, Radio. It was released in 1985 for Def Jam Recordings and was both written and produced by LL Cool J and Rick Rubin. It is a love song to the boombox. The song found modest success, making it to #15 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. "I Can't Live Without My Radio" was released with the follow-up single "I Can Give You More". It is the first Def Jam single distributed through Columbia Records.

Hey Lover 1995 single by LL Cool J

"Hey Lover" is the first single released from American rapper LL Cool J's sixth album, Mr. Smith. The song features vocals from American R&B group Boyz II Men. It was released on October 31, 1995, for Def Jam Recordings and was produced by The Trackmasters and LL Cool J. The song samples Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life" from his 1982 hit album Thriller; thus Rod Temperton, the writer of that song, was given credit as a writer of this song. On the B-side is the "I Shot Ya" remix.

Terrence "Terry" Ronnie Keaton known by the stage name T La Rock, is an American old-school emcee best known for his collaboration with Def Jam Recordings co-founder Rick Rubin and the 1984 single "It's Yours."

Chung King Studios was a recording studio that operated in New York City under that name from 1986 to 2015. It was founded by producer John King and engineer Steve Ett with financial backing from the Etches brothers, occupying three different locations during that era. Countless notable hip hop acts recorded music at Chung King Studios over the years, including Run-DMC, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill, OutKast, ODB, Method Man, Nas, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. The studio became one of the most important recording spaces in the history of hip hop, pioneering commercial production of rap music. Beyond hip hop, notable groups like Aerosmith, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Depeche Mode, Destiny's Child, Fergie, Lady Gaga, Maxwell, Moby, and Phish also recorded there.

Rock the Bells (song) 1986 single by LL Cool J

"Rock the Bells" is the third single from LL Cool J's debut album, "Radio". It was released in 1985 for Def Jam Recordings, was written by LL Cool J and produced by Rick Rubin. It was the follow-up to "I Can Give You More". "Rock the Bells" peaked at #17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Despite the song's title, no bells can be heard in the album recording. The original version of the song, riddled with bells of various types including a cowbell, is 7 minutes and 11 seconds long and was only released on 12 inch vinyl. It was based on the 1982 song "Breaking Bells" by Crash Crew.

<i>Authentic</i> (LL Cool J album) 2013 studio album by LL Cool J

Authentic is the thirteenth studio album by American hip hop recording artist LL Cool J. The album was released on April 30, 2013, by S-BRO Music Group, 429 Records. It is his first album since 2008's Exit 13 and his first to not be released on Def Jam. The album features guest appearances from Fitz and The Tantrums, Eddie Van Halen, Snoop Dogg, Fatman Scoop, Seal, Charlie Wilson, Melody Thornton, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bootsy Collins, Travis Barker, Chuck D, Tom Morello, Z-Trip, Mickey Shiloh, Monica and Brad Paisley.

Run-DMC American hip hop group

Run-DMC was an American hip hop group from Hollis, Queens, New York, founded in 1983 by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell. Run-DMC is regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of hip hop culture and one of the most famous hip hop acts of the 1980s. Along with Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Public Enemy, the group pioneered new school hip hop music. The group was among the first to highlight the importance of the MC and DJ relationship.

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