LL Cool J (which stands for Ladies Love Cool James) is an American rapper and actor. Born James Todd Smith on January 14, 1968, in Bay Shore, New York to Ondrea Griffith and James Louis Smith Jr., the rapper turned to music at an early age when he began performing in his church choir.
By age 9, he started rapping, and with the assistance of his grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, he got his first mixing table at the age of sixteen. His mother on the other hand used her one-year tax refund to buy him a Korg drum machine.
LL Cool J started making waves following his 1984 single titled “I need a beat,” which sold over 100,000 copies. Due to the massive performance of his debut song, he decided to drop out of school to record his first album. “Radio” became a massive hit and went and went platinum with 1,500,000 sales. He followed it up with “Bigger and Deffer” in 1987 and returned in 1989 with another album (Walking with a Panther) which would once again go platinum.
In 1993, he took a break from music and began an acting career. It was during this time that he appeared in the films “The Hard Way” and “Toys.” He also featured on the NBC sitcom “In The House”. He would return to music in 1995 with an album, Mr. Smith. The album reportedly sold over 2 million copies. He went on to release more than five record albums.
LL Cool J he is a true multihyphenate. Aside from being a two-time Grammy award-winning rapper, record producer, actor, and author, he’s also an incredible entrepreneur and philanthropist.
He founded Rock the Bells, a global platform on a mission to elevate Hip-Hop culture from its roots to the modern day. It has taken over SiriusXM with Rock The Bells Radio since its founding. It is now under a partnership with Paramount.
“Well, the inspiration, it’s kind of a long story,” he said to Goldman Sachs. “I’ll try to make it concise. About seven, eight, nine years ago there was a channel on SiriusXM called Backspin. And Backspin played classic hip hop or old school hip hop, which people like to refer to it as some. I’m trying to change that. We are changing it. But I felt like when I would listen to the station it was like a glorified jukebox.”
L.L Cool J said when he got the radio channel; he went from about 1.3 million listeners to about 7 million listeners daily.
Also, at the height of the pandemic, he launched Rock The Bells business venture, a site which “includes a carefully curated marketplace.” “The website is an extension of the Rock The Bells station on SiriusXM that LL Cool J launched in 2018,” MSN also reported.
In addition to Rock the Bells, he launched his clothing line, “Todd Smith,” in 2006. The line featured urban streetwear, including t-shirts, jeans, and hoodies. Although the clothing line was not a success, it gave the musician valuable entrepreneurial success.
That experience came in handy when he partnered with Phenix Salon Suites’ to give franchisees an opportunity to own a beauty boutique of their own. A press release said the deal will allow the rapper to develop the salon suite opportunity “throughout the East Coast, including Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, in addition to expanding the Los Angeles market.”
LL Cool J is also behind Boomdizzle, whose flagship product, My Connect Studio, allows artists and producers to digitally record, edit and produce music in real-time, even if they’re oceans apart, according to Forbes.
“Prior to this you had to email songs back and forth a thousand times, it was the Pony Express to get music made,” he said. “It’s a problem I had as a musician that needed to be solved. And we solved it.”