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LL Cool J

Mostly Credited As: LL Cool J
Birth Name: James Todd Smith
Date Of Birth: January 14, 1968 (Age 46)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Bay Shore, Long Island, New York
Height: 6' 1 ½" (1.86 m)

LL Cool J


Hip-hop is notorious for short-lived careers, but LL Cool J is the inevitable exception that proves the rule. Releasing his first hit, "I Can't Live Without My Radio," in 1985 when he was just 17 years old, LL initially was a hard-hitting, street-wise b-boy with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. He quickly developed an alternate style, a romantic -- and occasionally sappy -- lover's rap epitomized by his mainstream breakthrough single, "I Need Love." LL's first two albums, Radio and Bigger and Deffer, made him a star, but he strived for pop stardom a little too much on 1989's Walking With a Panther. By 1990, his audience had declined somewhat, since his ballads and party raps were the opposite of the chaotic, edgy political hip-hop of Public Enemy or the gangsta rap of N.W.A., but he shot back to the top of the charts with Mama Said Knock You Out, which established him as one of hip-hop's genuine superstars. By the mid-'90s, he had starred in his own television sitcom, In the House, appeared in several films, and had racked up two of his biggest singles with "Hey Lover" and "Doin' It." In short, he had proven that rappers could have long-term careers.

Of course, that didn't seem likely when he came storming out of Queens, NY, when he was 16 years old. LL Cool J (born James Todd Smith; his stage name is an acronym for "Ladies Love Cool James") had already been rapping since the age of nine. Two years later, his grandfather -- he had been living with his grandparents since his parents divorced when he was four -- gave him a DJ system and he began making tapes at home. Eventually, he sent these demo tapes to record companies, attracting the interest of Def Jam, a fledgling label run by New York University students Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. Def Jam signed LL and released his debut, "I Need a Beat," as their first single in 1984. The record sold over 100,000 copies, establishing both the label and the rapper. LL dropped out of high school and recorded his debut album, Radio. Released in 1985, Radio was a major hit and it earned considerable praise for how it shaped raps into recognizable pop-song structures. On the strength of "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells," the album went platinum in 1986. The following year, his second album, Bigger and Deffer, shot to number three due to the ballad "I Need Love," which became one of the first pop-rap crossover hits.

LL's knack for making hip-hop as accessible as pop was one of his greatest talents, yet it was also a weakness, since it opened him up to accusations of him being a sellout. Taken from the Less Than Zero soundtrack, 1988's "Goin' Back to Cali" walked the line with ease, but 1989's Walking With a Panther was not greeted warmly by most hip-hop fans. Although it was a Top Ten hit and spawned the gold single "I'm That Type of Guy," the album was perceived as a pop sell-out effort, and on a supporting concert at the Apollo, he was booed. LL didn't take the criticism lying down -- he struck back with 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out, the hardest record he ever made. LL supported the album with a legendary, live acoustic performance on MTV Unplugged, and on the strength of the Top Ten R&B singles "The Boomin' System" and "Around the Way Girl" (number nine, pop) as well as the hit title track, Mama Said Knock You Out became his biggest-selling album, establishing him as a pop star in addition to a rap superstar. He soon landed roles in the films The Hard Way (1991) and Toys (1992), and he also performed at Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration in 1993. Mama Said Knock You Out kept him so busy that he didn't deliver the follow-up, 14 Shots to the Dome, until the spring of 1993. Boasting a harder, gangsta-rap edge, 14 Shots initially sold well, debuting in the Top Ten, but it was an unfocused effort that generated no significant hit singles. Consequently, it stalled at gold status and hurt his reputation considerably.

Following the failure of 14 Shots to the Dome, LL began starring in the NBC sitcom In the House. He returned to recording in 1995, releasing Mr. Smith toward the end of the year. Unexpectedly, Mr. Smith became a huge hit, going double platinum and launching two of his biggest hits with the Boyz II Men duet "Hey Lover" and "Doin' It." At the end of 1996, he released the greatest-hits album, All World, while Phenomenon appeared one year later. G.O.A.T. Featuring James T. Smith: The Greatest of All Time, released in 2000, reached the top of the album charts, and 2002's 10 featured one of his biggest hits in years, "Luv U Better." With the help of producer Timbaland he unleashed the tough DEFinition album in 2004 as his James Todd Smith clothing line was hitting the malls.

TV Appearances

Main cast 
The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles (2014)As: Host
NCIS: Los Angeles (2009)As: Special Agent Sam Hanna
The Man (2008)As: Manny "The Man" Baxter
VGX (2003)As: Himself
In the House (1995)As: Marion Hill
Billboard Music Awards (1990)As: Himself (Host 2005)
Kids' Choice Awards (US) (1988)As: Himself (Co-Host - 2000)
The Grammys (1959)As: Himself (Host 2012-)
Episode Cast Credits 

The Ellen DeGeneres Show (2003) 
  LL Cool J, Amy Purdy & Derek Hough 11x146: (Apr/28/2014) As Himself 
  Wendy Williams, Keaton Simons 10x174: (Jun/10/2013) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J 10x147: (Apr/30/2013) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  Kelsey Grammer, LL Cool J 03x132: (Apr/05/2006) As Himself 

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005) 
  LL Cool J, Candice Accola 10x70: (Apr/28/2014) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J, Naomie Harris 08x173: (Nov/08/2012) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J, Masi Oka, Chris Daughtry 03x07: (Jan/10/2007) As Himself, [Interviewees]

The Arsenio Hall Show (2013) (2013) 
  LL Cool J | Jesse Williams | Prentice Powell 01x106: (Feb/24/2014) As Himself, [Interviewees]

The Talk (2010) 
  LL Cool J, Andy Cohen, A.J. Hammer 03x164: (May/16/2013) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  Season 3, Episode 102 03x102: (Feb/08/2013) As Himself, [Interviewees]

The View (1997) 
  Season 16, Episode 162 16x162: (May/13/2013) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  Mario Cantone, LL Cool J, Nancy Wilson 10x90: (Jan/16/2007) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J, guest co-host Sherri Shepherd 10x80: (Jan/02/2007) As Himself 
  LL Cool J 09x70: (Apr/14/2006) As Himself 

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2009) 
  LL Cool J, Alyson Hannigan, Benedict Cumberbatch 05x78: (May/10/2013) As Himself, [Interviewees]

Oprah Prime (2012) 
  LL Cool J 02x20: (Jan/27/2013) As Himself 

Hawaii Five-0 (2010) (2010) 
  Pa Make Loa (Touch of Death) 02x21: (Apr/30/2012) As Special Agent Sam Hanna, [Special Guest Stars]

Conan (2010) 
  The Postman Always Rings Ten Times. What's His Problem? 02x05: (Nov/14/2011) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  Hickory Dickory Danger 01x05: (Nov/15/2010) As Himself, [Interviewees]

The Grammys (1959) 
  The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards 53x01: (Feb/13/2011) As Himself, [Guest Hosts]
  The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards 52x01: (Jan/31/2010) As Himself, [Guest Hosts]

Teen Choice Awards (1999) 
  The 12th Annual Teen Choice Awards 12x01: (Aug/09/2010) As Himself (Presenter) 

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (2001) 
  Andy Roddick, LL Cool J, Christina Aguilera, Eminem 18x19: (Jun/04/2010) As Himself 

The Bonnie Hunt Show (2008) (2008) 
  LL Cool J, Rumer Willis, John Irving 02x42: (Nov/03/2009) As Himself 

Live with Kelly & Michael (1983) 
  Christian Slater; LL Cool J 28x12: (Sep/22/2009) As Himself 

NCIS (2003) 
  Legend (Part II) 06x23: (May/05/2009) As Special Agent Sam Hanna 
  Legend (Part I) 06x22: (Apr/28/2009) As Special Agent Sam Hanna 

Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993) 
  LL Cool J, Oliver Stone, Dead Confederates 16x20: (Oct/10/2008) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J, Abigail Breslin, Gov't Mule 14x65: (Jan/02/2007) As Himself 
  LL Cool J, Mo Rocca, Jimmy Carr 13x64: (Jan/10/2006) As Himself 
  LL Cool J, Peter Gallagher, Greg Behrendt 10x157: (Aug/07/2003) As Himself 

The Early Show (1999) 
  LL Cool J 10x05: (Sep/12/2008) As Himself 
  L.L. Cool J. 08x137: (Mar/13/2007) As Himself 

So You Think You Can Dance (2005) 
  2 of 8 Voted Off 04x19: (Jul/24/2008) As Himself 

30 Rock (2006) 
  The Source Awards 01x16: (Mar/01/2007) As Ridikolus 

Jimmy Kimmel Live (2003) 
  LL Cool J, Ricky Jay, Tom Morello 05x36: (Feb/28/2007) As Himself 
  LL Cool J, Robert Klein 04x65: (Apr/25/2006) As Himself 
  Danica Patrick, Todd Glass, Richard Kind,& LL Cool J 03x120: (Sep/12/2005) As Himself 
  9/20/04 01x140: (Sep/20/2004) As Himself 

The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet (2007) 
  L.L. Cool J 01x07: (Jan/30/2007) As Himself 

Top 20 Countdown (1994) 
  Season 5, Episode 1 05x01: (Jan/06/2007) As Himself, [Interviewees]

Today (US) (1952) 
  Josh Bernstein, LL Cool J 56x87: (Jan/02/2007) As Himself 

106 and Park (2000) 
  3/23/06 06x02: (Mar/23/2006) As Himself 
  LL Cool J; Mobb Deep 04x34: (Sep/14/2004) As Himself 

The Tyra Banks Show (2005) 
  All Access Pass with LL Cool J 01x99: (Feb/20/2006) As Himself 

The Tony Danza Show (2004) (2004) 
  LL Cool J, John C. McGinley, Paul Teutul Jr., Paul Teutul Sr. 02x11: (Sep/26/2005) As Himself 

House (2004) 
  Acceptance 02x01: (Sep/13/2005) As Clarence 

American Idol (2002) 
  Cleveland, Ohio & Orlando, Florida Auditions 04x05: (Feb/01/2005) As Himself 

MADtv (1995) 
  Episode #1007 10x07: (Nov/27/2004) As Himself, [Uncredited]
  Episode #222 02x22: (May/17/1997) As Himself, [Guest Hosts]
  Episode #108 01x08: (Dec/09/1995) As Himself 

Behind The Music (1997) 
  L.L. Cool J 08x02: (Oct/10/2004) As Himself 

The Late Show with David Letterman (1993) 
  Carly Patterson, Jeff Foxworthy, LL Cool J 12x06: (Aug/30/2004) As Himself 
  Mike Wallace, Kelly Montieth, LL Cool J 05x30: (Oct/16/1997) As Himself, [Musical Guests]
  Show #0494 03x55: (Nov/24/1995) As Himself 

The Frank Skinner Show (1995) 
  Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Brenda Blethyn, LL Cool J 06x04: (Oct/01/2002) As Himself 

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (1996) 
  LL Cool J 07x18: (Feb/06/2002) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J 04x109: (Aug/24/1999) As Himself, [Interviewees]
  LL Cool J 03x102: (Aug/12/1998) As Himself, [Interviewees]

Last Call with Carson Daly (2002) 
  LL Cool J, Zoe Saldana 01x16: (Feb/04/2002) As Himself 

TV total (1999) 
  Season 3, Episode 21 03x21: (Jan/31/2001) As Himself, [Musical Guests]

Kids' Choice Awards (US) (1988) 
  13th Annual Kids' Choice Awards 13x01: (Apr/15/2000) As Co-Host 

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992) 
  000204 08x10: (Feb/04/2000) As Himself, [Musical Guests]

Clive Anderson All Talk (1996) 
  Series 4, Show 7 04x07: (Oct/14/1999) As Himself 

All That (1994) 
  LL Cool J 04x15: (Oct/17/1998) As Himself, [Musical Guests]
  Tia & Tamera Mowry/LL Cool J 03x01: (Nov/16/1996) As Himself, [Musical Guests]

Oz (1997) 
  Strange Bedfellows 02x06: (Aug/17/1998) As Jiggy Walker 

Soul Train (1971) 
  LL Cool J/ Dru Hill/ Billy Porter 27x17: (Feb/07/1998) As Himself 
  LL Cool J/ Pure Soul/ Monifah 25x15: (Jan/20/1996) As Himself 
  LL Cool J/ Kris Kross 23x10: (Dec/25/1993) As Himself 
  LL Cool J/ Shai/ Mystro Clark- Comic 22x26: (May/08/1993) As Himself 

MTV Unplugged (1989) 
  Yo! Unplugged Rap 02x06: (May/01/1991) As Himself 

The Word (UK) (1990) 
  Season 1, Episode 3 01x03: (Sep/07/1990) As Himself 

American Bandstand (1957) 
  LL Cool J 32x18: (Aug/05/1989) As Himself 
  L.L. Cool J / INXS 31x08: (Nov/07/1987) As Himself 
  LL Cool J / The Dream Academy 29x27: (Mar/01/1986) As Himself 

Saturday Night Live (1975) 
  Sean Penn/L.L. Cool J., Michael Penn & the Pull 13x02: (Oct/24/1987) As Himself, [Musical Guests]
Crew Credits

Show Crew


The Man (2008)• Producer
The Grammy Nominations Concert Live! (2008)• Producer

Episode Crew


Featured Songs

Daria Songs:
Arts 'n' Crass + 4,3,2,1
+ Phenomenom 
Road Worrier + Going back to Cali 
The Invitation + Loungin' 
New York Undercover Songs:
School Ties + Around the Way Girl 
All That Songs:
LL Cool J + Father 
Tia & Tamera Mowry/LL Cool J + Who Do Ya Luv 
Rob & Big Songs:
Moving In + Goin Back to Cali 
One Tree Hill Songs:
Weeks Go by Like Days + Mama Said Knock You Out 
Some Roads Lead Nowhere + Mama Said Knock You Out 
Truth Doesn't Make a Noise + Headsprung 
Entourage Songs:
Talk Show + Headsprung 
Crossing Jordan Songs:
Family Affair + Headsprung 
Everybody Hates Chris Songs:
Everybody Hates Driving + I'm Bad 
Everybody Hates Caruso + I'm Bad 
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Songs:
Pontiac Bandit + Mama Said Knock You Out 
Surviving Jack Songs:
Gonna Make You Sweat + Mama Said Knock You Out 
Alias Songs:
Pandora + Move Sumpthin' 
Trivia

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LL Cool J Quotes

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