Driven brings the music world's biggest pop icons' unknown pasts to life with footage that the public has never seen, plus interviews with those special people who played integral roles in their development as artists and individuals, providing a rare glimpse at what they were really like.
There's no such thing as overnight success -- over time, like a jigsaw puzzle, pieces are added, small breakthroughs are made, and eventually the picture of a pop star begins to take shape. Driven traces that process from childhood to the first glimmer of stardom, through the eyes of those who knew the artist best and helped play pivotal roles in their development -- teachers, family members, friends, and creative partners. With each episode of Driven dedicated to a single artist, the show looks at the stars' blueprints for success and what propelled them to achieve it despite the obstacles that lay in their paths.
LL Cool J grew up poor and endured a rough family situation as a child, however, he emerged through it all to become a hugely successful self-made man. LL began his career as a pioneer in hip-hop, and moved on to also become a successful actor. Born in 1968, James Todd Smith was raised in Queens. In his youth, he sang in a church choir, and even got to perform with the choir for the pope in Shea Stadium.
He began rapping as a hobby at the age of 9, and at 13, his grandfather bought him music equipment. In 1984 at age 16, LL mailed a demo tape to local hip-hop producer Rick Rubin of the upstart label Def Jam Records. A young Adam Horowitz (aka AD ROCK) found LL's demo while rummaging around Rubin's dorm room. He liked LL's sound and brought the demo to Rubin's attention, thus setting off a chain of events.