LL Cool J
James Todd Smith (born January 14, 1968), known professionally as LL Cool J (might be short for Ladies Love Cool James), Is an American rapper, actor, author and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. He 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 romantic ballads such as “Doin’ It”, “I Need Love”, “All I Have”, “Around the Way Girl” and “Hey Lover”.
A two-time Grammy Award winner, 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. In 2010, VH1 has placed him on their “100 Greatest Artists Of All Time” list.
LL Cool J appeared in numerous films, including In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, 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.
He 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. His grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, bought him $2,000 worth of equipment, including two turntables, an audio mixer and an amplifier. Smith stated that “By the time I got that equipment, I 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. I got into it when I was about 9, and since then all I wanted was to make a record and hear it on the radio.” 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.
In the VH1 documentary Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation, LL Cool J 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 Cool James), 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). The single was a hard-hitting, streetwise b-boy song with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. 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.” 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’.” 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.
Recently in April 2018, LL Cool J launches Rock The Bells Radio on SiriusXM go check more info at http://llcoolj.com/2018/04/04/ll-cool-j-launches-rock-the-bells-radio-on-siriusxm/