LL Cool J entered the world on our nation's 2nd Super Bowl Sunday, January 14th, 1968. While legendary Vince Lombardi was in Miami enjoying his final coaching victory with the Green Bay Packers, another pioneer was born in Queens, New York--and would someday soon change the hip-hop music world forever!
James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J popularized romantic ballads such as "I Need Love", "Around the Way Girl", and "Hey Lover"...while paving the hip-hop path through the '80's and '90's with hits like "I Can't Live Without My Radio", "I'm Bad", "The Boomin System", and "Momma Said Knock You Out".
From 1985 until the present, LL Cool J, which stands for "Ladies Love Cool James", has released 12 hit studio albums and one greatest hits compilation....the majority of which, sold well-over a million copies each.
He's also acted in several motion pictures and television series'(32 projects total), helped launch sportswear lines 'TROUP' and 'FUBU', as well as his own clothing line called "Todd Smith", writtin four books, founded three record labels, captured nearly 50 music awards(including 2 Grammys), and maintained a solid family life with his wife and four children.
At 42, LL Cool J has accomplished more than most do in ten lifetimes, yet he's also been able to keep things real and normal, in a way most audiences can appreciate--while still being there for his family. Perhaps this makes up for what he didn't have growing up.
LL's parents divorced when he was four, and he was raised by his grandparents. By the age of nine he'd begun rapping and performing in the church choir, had joined the 'Boy Scouts' and delivered newspapers.
Then, one day his grandfather bought him a mixing table from 'Sears', and LL used it to produce and record demos which he sent out to record companies--including 'Def Jam Recordings'. They would release LL's first hit, a single called "I Need a Beat", which sold over 100,000 copies! Soon afterwards, LL dropped out of highschool to record his first album.
In 1985, 'Radio' received critical acclaim as LL Cool J was one of the first rappers ever to use conventional song structure to make pop-oriented rap. Singles "I Can't Live Without My Radio", and "Rock the Bells" helped the album go platinum with 1,500,000 copies sold!
Albums 'Bigger and Deffer', 'Walking with Panther', 'Mamma Said Knock You Out', 'G.O.A.T' and '10' would also reach platinum status over the next 15-years. However, through it all, LL felt the need to broaden another horizon. His first acting part was a small role in a highschool football movie called 'Wildcats'.
In 1995 he landed his own T.V. sitcom 'In the House', where he played an ex-L.A.Raiders runningback who's financial troubles force him to rent out his home to a single mom and her two children. From there LL landed starring roles in films like 'Halloween H20', 'Deep Blue Sea', 'Any Given Sunday', the 2002 remake of 'Rollerball', 'Deliver Us From Eva', and 'S.W.A.T'.
LL has also guest starred on the 'Fox' medical drama 'House', '30 Rock', 'Sesame Street', and CBS's 'NCIS:Los Angeles', where he currently plays Special Agent Sam Hanna, an ex-'Navy Seal' fluent in Arabic and a specialist in West Asian culture.
It was only a few months ago that LL wrote a song dedicated to the NCIS series now available on iTunes, and based on his experiences as Agent Sam Hanna. "It's a 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 that I wrote the song right here on the set".
It's safe to say that over the past 25-years, LL Cool J has well-represented the "collective energy" in millions of rooms, providing "inspiration" to a variety of audiences throughout the nation, and the world.
Thanks, and tune in to "Big Hop" on Streetwise Radio!