At 56 years old, LL Cool J has this physical status:
James Todd Smith (born January 14, 1968), known professionally as LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love Cool James), is an American rapper, record producer, actor, author and entrepreneur from Queens, New York.
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-D.M.C. 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 appeared in numerous films, including In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, S.W.A.T., Deep Blue Sea, 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.A two-time Grammy Award winner, LL Cool J is known for such hip hop hits 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 has placed him on their "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time" list.
In 2017, LL Cool J became the first rapper to receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
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, also known as James Nunya. 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." In 1972, Smith and his mother moved into his grandparents' home in St. Albans, Queens, where he was raised. He suffered physical and mental abuse from his mother's ex-boyfriend Roscoe.
Smith began rapping at the age of 10, influenced by the hip-hop group The Treacherous Three. In 1984, sixteen-year-old Smith was creating demo tapes in his grandparents' home. His grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, bought him $2,000 worth of equipment, including two turntables, an audio mixer and an amplifier. His mother was also supportive of his musical endeavors, using her tax refund to buy him a Korg drum machine. 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." 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.
Smith dated Kidada Jones, daughter of producer Quincy Jones, from 1992 to 1994. He married Simone Johnson in 1995. The couple met in 1987 and have four children.
Smith reconciled with his father.
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.
In 2002, LL Cool J supported George Pataki's bid for a third term as Governor of New York. In 2003, LL Cool J spoke at a U.S. Senate Committee hearing on the RIAA lawsuits against Americans distributing or downloading copyrighted music over peer-to-peer networks. He appeared to endorse the RIAA's position, claiming illegal file sharing was hurting his sales and that his session musicians “can’t live” due to the lost income. Chuck D provided an opposing viewpoint, saying free file-sharing could be leveraged as a promotional tool and the industry was being overprotective of its copyright. He also voiced his support for New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, during an appearance on the senator's local television show; he worked with Smith in putting on the annual Jump and Ball Tournament in the rapper's childhood neighborhood of St. Albans, Queens. 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?" 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."
LL Cool J has his own charitable foundation called Jump & Ball, which is based in his hometown of Queens, New York, and offers an athletic and team-building program for young people. He is also involved in many charitable causes for literacy, music, and arts programs for kids and schools.
Smith revealed that he first identified himself J-Ski, but not foregoing to associate his stage name with the cocaine culture, as shown by the 1983 remake of Scarface.) LL Cool J (an abbreviation for Ladies Love Cool James), coined by his buddy and fellow rapper Mikey D. Smith (1984), became his first official record, "I Want a Beat." The single was a hard-hitting, streetwise b-boy song with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. Smith later discussed his quest for a brand, saying, "I sent my demo to many businesses, but it was Def Jam, where I found my home." Smith made his professional debut at Manhattan Center High School in the same year. In a later interview, LL Cool J recalled the experience, saying, "They pushed the lunch room tables together, and me and my DJ, Cut Creator," got to play. As soon as it was over, girls were screaming and requesting autographs. "This is what I want to do," I said right then and there. LL's debut single sold more than 100,000 copies and aided in the establishment of both Def Jam as a brand and Smith as a rapper. The commercial success of "I Need a Beat" (1984), as well as the Beastie Boys' single "Rock Hard" (1984), contributed to Def Jam's subsequent release of Columbia Records.
Radio was praised for both production advancement and LL's lyrical rap. Radio, which debuted on Def Jam Recordings in the United States, in 1985, has enjoyed a lot of commercial success and sales for a hip hop record. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the album sold over 500,000 copies in its first five months, eventually exporting over 1 million copies by 1988. Radio reached number six on the Top R&B/Hip Albums chart and at number 46 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and at number 46. On December 28, 1985, it debuted on the Top R&B/Hip Albums chart and remained there for 47 weeks, before entering the Pop Albums chart on January 11, 1986, where it has been on the chart for thirty-eight weeks. With sales exceeding one million copies, the album had already been granted platinum status by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), by 1989; it had previously received a gold award in the United States on April 14, 1986. "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells" were two songs that helped the album reach platinum. In the United States, it has now sold 1,500,000 copies.
LL Cool J became one of the first hip-hop bands to break mainstream success with the success of his hit single "I Need a Beat" and the Radio LP. As he will attend the 1986-87 Raising Hell tour, opening for Run-D.M.C., gigs at larger venues were offered to LL. The Beastie Boys and the others. His appearance on American Bandstand as the first hip hop act on the show, as well as an appearance on Diana Ross' 1987 television special, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, was another step in LL's fame.
Rick Rubin's fame and reputation as a record producer were also helped with the album's success. Radio, along with Raising Hell (1986) and Licensed to Ill (1986), will form a trilogy of New York City-based, Rubin-helmed albums that helped to diversify hip-hop. Rubin's back cover credits reads "REDUCED BY RICK RUBIN," referring to his minimalist production style, which gave the album its stripped-down and gritty appearance. This design will be one of Rubin's production signatures and will have a major effect on future hip-hop productions. Rubin's early hip hop production work, before his departure from Def Jam to Los Angeles, helped solidify his reputation as a hip hop king and establish his name in the music industry.
LL Cool J's second album, Bigger and Deffer, was released in 1987 by DJ Pooh and the L.A. Posse. This is one of his best-selling career albums, having sold in excess of two million copies in the United States alone. It took 11 weeks for No. 10 to become No. 1 in the United States. Billboard's R&B charts, no. 1 on Billboard's R&B charts. It also ranked at No. 10. Billboard's Pop Albums chart ranks 3 on the Billboard's Pop Album Chart. The album included the singles "I'm Bad" and "I Need Love," LL's first #1 R&B and Top 40 hit, "Bristol Hotel," and "Go Cut Creator Go." Despite the fact that Bigger and Deffer was a huge success, the L.A. Posse was the only one left alive to produce LL Cool J's third album Walking with a Panther, which was composed of Dwayne Simon, Darryl Pierce, and, eventually, Bobby "Bobcat" Ervin, who was the most influential in shaping the LP's sound. The album, which was released on 1989, was a commercial success, with several charting singles ("Going Back to Cali," "I'm That Kind of Guy," "Big Ole Butt," and "One Shot at Love"). Despite commercial success, the album was often chastised by the hip-hop community for too commercial and materialistic, and for focusing too much on love ballads. As a result, his fanbase began to decline as a result of the album's brash commercial and pop ambitions. The album peaked at No. 62, according to Billboard. LL Cool J's second top R&B album on the Billboard 200 was No. 6 on the Billboard 200, and it lasted five weeks.
Mama Said Knock You Out, his fourth studio album, was released in 1990. According to the RIAA, the Marley Marl produced album received critical acclaim and then went double platinum, selling over two million copies in less than two years. Mama Said Knock You Out was a turning point in LL Cool J's career, as he continued to criticize his ability to remain relevant and hard-edged amid the misgivings of his previous albums. In 1992, LL received the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance on the title track. Mama Said Knock You Out was LL's top-selling album of his career (as of 2002), solidifying his place as a hip-hop legend. LL also recorded a rap solo for Michael Jackson's demo of "Serious Effect" that is still unveiled but leaked online.
LL Cool J's first appearance in The Hard Way and Toys was released in 14 Shots to the Dome. "How I'm Comin," "Back Seat (of My Jeep)," "Pink Cookies in a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings"), "How I'm Comin," "Stand By Your Man"), and guest-featured labelmates Lords of the Underground on "NFA-No Frontin" Allowed were among the album's four singles ("How I'm Comin") and "How I'm Comin' (Today's Allowed)" ("How I' The album's success went gold.
LL Cool J appeared in In the House, an NBC sitcom, before releasing Mr. Smith (1995), which went on to sell over 2 million copies. "Doin' It" and "Loungin" were among the singles that were released. "Hey Lover," another of the album's singles, featured Boyz II Men and excerpted Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life,"; it eventually became an early hip-hop music video to air on VH1. He also received a Grammy Award for his song "Really Blue." "I Shot Ya Remix," Foxy Brown's debut vocal performance, was included on the album. Def Jam released this "greatest hits" collection in 1996, giving a good overview of Cool J's career, from the relentless minimalism of early hits such as "Rock the Bells" to the smooth-talking braggadocio that followed. Bigger and Deffer, as well as Mama Said Knock You Out are well represented here on these classic albums. On the Beavis and Butt-Head Do America soundtrack, he loosened his version of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" in December 1996 and was released as a single. LL Cool J's interpretation of "Ain't Nobody" was particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where it topped the UK Singles Chart in early-1997. He also released Phenomenon, a year ago. "Phenomenon" and "Father" were among the singles included in the series. Method Man, Redman & Master P, and Canibus were the two official Phenomenon singles.
LL Cool J introduced the album G.O.A.T. in 2000, which stood for the "Greatest of All Time" in a sense. It debuted on the Billboard album charts at number one, then went platinum. In the album's liner notes, LL Cool J thanked Canibus "for the inspiration." LL Cool J's new album, "Paradise" (featuring Amerie), and the Neptunes' "Luv U Better" was his ninth studio (10th overall, including his greatest hits compilation All World). "All I Have" became the album's second pressing. The album has achieved platinum status. Cool J's tenth album The DEFinition was released on August 31, 2004. The album debuted at No. 0 on the charts. The Billboard charts show that 4 people are on the Billboard charts. Timbaland, 7 Aubrelius, R. Kelly, and others produced a lot of units. The lead single was "Headsprung," which peaked at No. 1 in Timbaland. On the Hip-Hop and R&B singles chart, 7 is the highest and R&B singles chart, while No. 1 is No. 7. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 is the most popular. "Hush," a 7 austria–produced album, debuted at No. 2 on the charts, and it peaked at No. 2nd place. On the Billboard Hip-Hop and R&B chart, 14 people are listed, with No. 12 and No. 14 at the top of the chart. On the Hot 100, there are 26.
Todd Smith, LL Cool J's 11th album, was announced on April 11, 2006. It includes collaborations with 112, Ginuwine, Juelz Santana, Teairra Mari, and Freeway. Jennifer Lopez appeared in Jermaine Dupri's "Control Myself" for the first time. On January 2, 2006, they shot "Control Myself" at Sony Studios in New York. "Freeze" was Hype Williams' second film, starring Lyfe Jennings.
LL Cool J revealed information about his upcoming record with Def Jam Recordings in July, the only label he has ever been signed to. Exit 13 is the album. The album was originally supposed to be executive produced by fellow Queens rapper 50 Cent. Exit 13 had been intended for a fall 2006 release but after a two-year delay, it was announced on September 9, 2008 without a single cent as the executive producer. Both of the tracks were leaked to the internet, and some of the tracks that were made with 50 made it to Exit 13. "The Return of the G.O.A.T." LL Cool J co-produced a mixtape with DJ Kay Slay. It was his first mixtape of his 24-year career and featured freestyling by LL Cool J in comparison to other rappers' renditions of his songs. On June 1, 2008, a track titled "Hi Haterz" was leaked on the internet. LL Cool J raps over the instrumental to Maino's "Hi Hater" in the film. Janet Jackson toured with Janet Jackson on her Rock Witchu tour, but he was only active in Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, and Kansas City.
LL Cool J released a song about the NCIS TV series in September 2009. It's a single and is available on iTunes. Sam Hanna's latest track is based on his work as a special agent. "This song is the musical interpretation of what I felt after speaking with NCIS agents, veterans of the Navy, and Navy SEALS," LL Cool J wrote. "It represents the collective dynamism of the room." I was so inspired, I wrote the song on tape.
LL Cool J, Z-Trip's special guest at the Red Bull Thre3Style showcase in March 2011, was confirmed to be Z-Trip's special guest at the Red Bull Thre3Style showcase in South by Southwest. This marked the start of a nimble partnership between the rap and DJ stars. In an interview with Carson Daly, the two talked about their friendship. Both musicians have promised future collaborations down the road, with LL Cool J's labeling of British rock act Kasabian's "Days Are Forgotten" as his "Best Record In The World" by influential DJ Zane Lowe as his "Best Record In The World" and receiving a warm reception in both Belgium and the United Kingdom. To celebrate the New York Giants Super Bowl victory, the pair released "Super Baller" as a free download in January 2012. The two performers have been touring together since 2011, with future dates planned through 2012 and beyond.
LL Cool J released "Reality," a Authentic Hip-Hop track, on October 6, 2012. Following that, LL collaborated with Joe and Trackmasters on his second album, "Take It" on November 3, 2012.
The title of LL's forthcoming album, Authentic Hip-Hop, will be changed from Authentic Hip-Hop to Authentic, with a new release date set for April 30, 2013. At the same time, a new coat was unveiled. Around the same time, LL Cool J had collaborated with Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen on two tracks on the album.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced LL Cool J as a nominee for admission in 2014.
LL revealed in October 2014 that his 14th studio album would be named G.O.A.T. In 2015, a 2nd and a 3rd will be introduced. "The idea behind the album was to give young artists a chance to shine and place myself in a situation where I would have to spit bars with some of the worst rhymers in the game," LL said; however, the album was postponed. "It was fine, but I didn't feel like it was ready yet," LL Cool J explained the reason for it.
LL received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 21, 2016.
On social media, LL announced his resignation in March 2016, but walked backward and announced that a new album was on the way. For five years, LL has hosted the Grammy Awards Show from the 54th Grammy Awards on February 12, 2012, to the 58th Grammy Awards on February 15, 2016.
LL Cool J was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October 2018. LL had re-signed to Def Jam for future album launches in September 2019. Q-Tip will produce his upcoming album.
Cool J canceled his appearance at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on December 29, 2021, after testing positive for COVID-19.
On March 22, 2022, LL hosted the 2022 iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Although LL Cool J first appeared as a rapper in the film "I Can't Live Without My Radio"), his first acting appearance in a high school football film called Wildcats appeared in a small town football film. In Barry Levinson's 1992 film Toys, he landed the role of Captain Patrick Zevo. He appeared on his own television sitcom In the House from 1995 to 1999. He portrayed an ex-Oakland Raiders running back who is suffering financially and is forced to rent part of his house to a single mother and her two children, one of whom will go out with her before the third season.
In 1998, LL Cool J played security guard Ronny in Halloween H20, the seventh film in the Halloween series. In 1999, Preacher, the chef in the Renny Harlin horror/comedy Deep Blue Sea, co-starred. In In Too Deep, Dwayne Gittens, an underworld boss with the name "God," has received raves for his work as Dwayne Gittens, an underworld boss named "God." In Oliver Stone's drama Any Given Sunday, Julian Washington played a savvy yet selfish running back on fictional professional football team the Miami Sharks. When filming a fight scene, Jamie Foxx and co-star Jamie Foxx reportedly got into a real fistfight. LL Cool J appeared in Rollerball, Deliver Us from Eva, S.W.A.T., and Mindhunters over the next two years.
In an episode called "Acceptance," he returned to television in 2005 in a guest-starring role on the Fox medical drama House; he portrayed a death row prisoner felled by an unknown disease. In the 2006 film Last Holiday, he appeared as Queen Latifah's love interest. In the 2007 film "The Source Awards," he appeared on 30 Rock, portraying a hip-hop producer named Ridikulous, who Tracy Jordan is afraid of killing him. In episode 4169 (September 22, 2008) and performing "The Addition Expedition" in episode 4172 (September 30, 2008), LL Cool J appeared in Sesame Street's 39th season, coining the word of the day-"Unanimous"—the day's greeting—and performing "The Addition Expedition" in episode 4169 (September 30, 2008).
LL Cool J has appeared on CBS police procedural NCIS: Los Angeles since 2009. The program is a spin-off of NCIS, which is itself a spin-off of the naval court drama JAG. LL Cool J portrays NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna, an ex-Navy SEAL who speaks fluently in Arabic and is an expert on West Asian history and culture. The characters appeared in the fall of 2009, but the show was introduced in a crossover episode on the parent show in April 2009. LL earned the Teen Choice Award for his role on the show in 2013.
In 2013, LL co-starred as a gym owner in the sports dramedy Grudge Match. LL has been host of Lip Sync Battle since April 2015. In Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, He played Beth's father and was shown in a trailer for the film, but his scenes were cut from the final product.
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