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L.L. Cool J

L.L. Cool J

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Also Known As: James Todd Smith Died:
Born: January 14, 1968 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Queens, New York, USA Profession: actor, rapper, songwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A true hip-hop original, LL Cool J did as much as anybody to bring rap to the mainstream in the '80s. He was born James Todd Smith in the Bay Shore section of Long Island in New York on January 14, 1968. His early life was horrific - his father shot both LL's mother and grandfather, and the young LL was the victim of child abuse. He found solace in rapping while still an adolescent, and by the time he was 16 he had gotten himself a record deal with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons' then-new Def Jam label. Rechristened LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James), he released his debut single, "I Need a Beat," in 1984. The record's sales figures helped to put both LL and the label on the map. As successful as the song was, it hadn't charted, but LL's next two singles, "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells" became bona fide hits, and his 1985 debut LP, Radio, crossed over to the pop charts and went Platinum, making him one of hip hop's first real stars. His next album, 1987's Bigger and Deffer blew up even bigger, hitting No. 1 R&B and No. 3 Pop and including the hit "I Need Love," a gentle love song that expanded people's conception of rap's possibilities. The 1989 album Walking With a Panther was...

A true hip-hop original, LL Cool J did as much as anybody to bring rap to the mainstream in the '80s. He was born James Todd Smith in the Bay Shore section of Long Island in New York on January 14, 1968. His early life was horrific - his father shot both LL's mother and grandfather, and the young LL was the victim of child abuse. He found solace in rapping while still an adolescent, and by the time he was 16 he had gotten himself a record deal with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons' then-new Def Jam label. Rechristened LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James), he released his debut single, "I Need a Beat," in 1984. The record's sales figures helped to put both LL and the label on the map. As successful as the song was, it hadn't charted, but LL's next two singles, "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells" became bona fide hits, and his 1985 debut LP, Radio, crossed over to the pop charts and went Platinum, making him one of hip hop's first real stars. His next album, 1987's Bigger and Deffer blew up even bigger, hitting No. 1 R&B and No. 3 Pop and including the hit "I Need Love," a gentle love song that expanded people's conception of rap's possibilities. The 1989 album Walking With a Panther was similarly successful, but it was 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out that really carved LL's face into hip hop's Mt. Rushmore, becoming the biggest album of his career and birthing the Gold singles "Around the Way Girl" and the title track. In the early '90s, LL inaugurated his acting sideline, which would prove as long lasting as his musical career. During this period he appeared in such films as Barrry Levinson's "Toys" (1993) and "The Hard Way," and in 1995 he began a five-season run as the star of the TV sitcom "In the House" (WB 1995-2000). Later, he starred in the procedural drama "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS 2009- ). Throughout his life, LL would continue to rack up hip-hop "firsts," from being the first hip-hop artist to appear on American Bandstand to becoming the first rapper honored at the Kennedy Center, the latter distinction arriving in 2017.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Grudge Match (2013)
2.
 Deal, The (2008)
3.
 Last Holiday (2006)
4.
 Edison (2005)
5.
 Mindhunters (2005)
6.
7.
 S.W.A.T. (2003)
8.
9.
 Rollerball (2002)
10.
 KINGDOM COME (2001)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

2000:
Appeared as Mr. Jones in the big screen remake of "Charlie's Angels"
2009:
Cast as Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS spin-off series "NCIS: Los Angeles"
1999:
Co-starred as a football player in Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday"
2007:
Co-starred as a gang leader opposite Ray Liotta in "Slow Burn"
2005:
Co-starred in the thriller "Edison"
1998:
Featured in the horror sequel "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later"
2003:
First lead role, playing a a womanizer who meets his match in the comedy feature "Deliver Us From Eva"
1987:
Made early TV appearance singing on a Diana Ross special
1995:
Starred in Debbie Allen's feature directorial debut "Out of Sync"
1985:
Appeared as himself in the film "Krush Groove"
2002:
Co-starred in the remake of "Rollerball"
1993:
Formed own record label, P.O.G. (Power of God); signed multi-album deal with Def Records
2001:
Cast as one of the leads in the ensemble feature "Kingdom Come"
2006:
Played Queen Latifah's love interest in the comedy "Last Holiday"
2000:
Released the album <i>G.O.A.T.</i>, which stood for the "Greatest Of All Time"
2005:
Co-starred with Val Kilmer in Renny Harlin's psychological thriller "Mindhunters"
1995:
Released his successful sixth album <i>Mr. Smith</i>
1991:
Made acting debut in the film "The Hard Way"; also featured his hit song "Mama Said Knock You Out"
2008:
Released final album under the Def Jam label <i>Exit 13</i>
1999:
Won plaudits for his effective turn as an evil drug dealer in "In Too Deep"
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actor: Action Adventure
2012:
Hosted the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony
2003:
Cast alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez in the action thriller "S.W.A.T."
1995:
Played a former professional football player on the sitcom "In the House" (NBC, 1995-96; UPN, 1996-99)
1990:
Released highly successful fourth album <i>Mama Said Knock You Out</i>
1987:
Released second album <i>Bigger and Deffer</i>
1985:
Released debut album <i>Radio</i> to critical acclaim
2004:
Released tenth studio album <i>The DEFinition</i>; earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album
1992:
Co-starred opposite Robin Williams in Barry Levinson's "Toys"
1985:
Released first single "I Need a Beat" with Def Jam Records
:
Known for such albums as "All World" and "The DEFinition"
:
Popular songs include "Doin' It" and "I Need Love".
2013:
Released the album <i>Authentic</i>
2016:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hillcrest High School: Queens, New York -

Notes

LL Cool J means "Ladies Love Cool James"

LL Cool J has a room in his home in which his more than 2,000 hats are stored.

LL Cool J has devoted resources to a foundation. At one time, he was involved with Camp Cool J, which provided thousands of inner-city youths the chance to spend the summer away from their urban homes, but since the late 1990s, that project has been on hiatus.

"No matter what happens, I keep my integrity. I don't dance around in chicken suits." --LL Cool J quoted in Us, April 1996.

"I'm not a joker. I'm not going to do the Sambo, tap-dancing thing. I don't want to be depicted in a stereotypical way. The [producers] are going to have to come up with some intellectual comedy for me." --LL Cool J in the New York Post, April 10, 1995.

"I'm not going to have maniac kids 20 years from now that are coming out of the clubs in Hollywood with sunglasses on, jumping into a [BMW] 325 convertible, and they're nuts." --LL Cool J in Us, April 1996.

"[I] Wish they could take my longevity and bottle it."-LL Cool J People November 4, 2002

" I wasted a lot of money in my life. I would buy houses, the jewelry and lots of cars. So many cars you wouldn't believe it. I'd buy Mercedes-Benzes and cut off the roofs because they didn't come in a convertible. I bought Porches in cash. BMW's. Then I started figuring out that I needed to manage my money- LL Cool J on how he became interested in playing the markets GQ February 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Kidada Jones. Actor, model. Daughter of Quincy Jones.
wife:
Simone Smith. Had an on and off relationship since the late 1980s; married 1995 while pregnant with their third child.

Family close complete family listing

father:
James Smith. Entrepreneur. Divorced from Ondrea Smith in 1972.
mother:
Ondrea Smith. Pharmacist. Divorced from James Smith in 1972.
son:
Najee Smith. Born c. 1989.
daughter:
Italia Smith. Born c. 1991.
daughter:
Sameria Smith. Born c. 1995.
daughter:
Nina Simone Smith. Born 2000.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"I Make My Own Rules" St. Martin's Press

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