LL COOL J
Date of Birth: January 14, 1968
Since emerging onto the rap scene in 1985, LL Cool J has become a cross-cultural phenomenon and an achiever of a long list of accomplishments: two-time Grammy Award winning rapper, star of a hit television series, feature film actor, trusted advertising pitchman, author, company chairman, humanitarian and devoted husband and father.
Born in St. Albans, New York as James Todd Smith, LL's earliest memories are of music—the jazz albums his grandfather would play and the R&B and rap tracks he heard on the syndicated television dance show, Soul Train. Burning with the need to create rhymes, he was rapping by the time he was nine. Before long he had concocted his stage name: LL Cool J, an acronym for "Ladies Love Cool James."
At 13, after his grandfather bought him music equipment instead of the dirt bike he wanted, LL began producing homemade demos and went in search of a major recording deal. A then-fledgling label named Def Jam Records was the only company to respond. From the very outset of his career LL made history.
At age 16, he was the first Def Jam artist to release a single, ("I Need A Beat," 1984). That same year he made his professional debut performance at Manhattan Center High School. "They pushed the lunch room tables together and me and my DJ, Cut Creator, started playing," LL recalls. "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.'"
In 1985, LL's Radio album was released to worldwide critical acclaim. His 1987 sophomore album, Bigger and Deffer, resulted in the chart-topping single "I Need Love," while LL's 1989 album Walking with a Panther featured the hit, "Going Back to Cali". 1990 saw the release of Mama Said Knock You Out and 14 Shots to the Dome (1993) eventually became LL's fifth consecutive platinum album.
As for acting, LL's first official movie was Krush Groove (1985), winning rave reviews for his cameo appearance. LL made his acting role debut as an undercover cop in the feature film, The Hard Way, starring Michael J. Fox and James Woods. He also had a supporting role in Barry Levinson's film Toys, which starred Robin Williams. In 1995, he became the star of In The House, the hit UPN television series in which he played a sidelined football player turned landlord and holistic rehabilitation center co-owner. LL acquired a starring role in 1995's Out of Sync, as well as the Showtime original release Right to Remain Silent (featuring Robert Loggia). Since then, he has received a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor in Deep Blue Sea (1999), was nominated for a Black Reel award as Best Actor in the comedy Deliver Us from Eva (2003) and received a 2003 ShoWest Award as Male Star of Tomorrow.
After that, he began receiving offers to appear on television, with guest roles on hit series such as House (2005), 30 Rock (2007), and NCIS (2009). In 2009 he was cast as Sam Hanna, one of the two leads of the explosive police series NCIS: Los Angeles, opposite Chris O'Donnell. To date he has appeared on 11 seasons of the hit series and in 2017, he received a People's Choice Award nomination in the Favorite TV Crime Drama Actor category.
However, it was his contribution to the music show Lip Sync Battle that earned him three of his four nominations—from 2016 to 2018—at the Emmy Awards. He was the host and one of the producers.
A dedicated family man, LL lives both in New York and Los Angeles with his wife, Simone. They have four children together.
Last Holiday (2006)
Slow Burn (2005)
Deliver Us from Eva (2003)
Kingdom Come (2001)
Any Given Sunday (1999)
In Too Deep (1999))
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Caught Up (1998)
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
The Hard Way (1991)
Krush Groove (1985)