Capable of being both a cherished hip-hop/rap artist and a fine Hollywood actor, LL Cool J has indeed scored such a rare achievement in American entertainment industry that only few other stars could follow. Throughout his long career, he has fulfilled the hard task to flourish both professions in an excellent way, creating tunes which frequently became massive hits while at the same time taking parts in well-known movies that have really played important parts in enhancing his reputation in show business. The fact that he once experienced dark period in his younger years fortunately did not make him fall into a negative way of life, instead evoked him to materialize his dream to be what he has become of later.
Born James Todd Smith on January 14, 1968 in St. Albans, Queens, New York as the only child of James and Ondrea Smith, little LL was never known how it felt to have a happy childhood for he had already been forced to endure some hardship during his early life. Since toddler, he had lived in awful situation due to the violence that often occurred in his parents' relationship which later shockingly resulted in his father's ruthless shot toward his mother and grandfather by the year 1972. Things got worse after survived Ondrea began dating a young physical therapist named Roscoe whom she met while being treated in the hospital for it turned out that this man frequently abused LL mentally and physically while the mother left home to work.
Finding a solace in the form of rap and hip-hop tunes to ease his sufferings, LL gradually fell in love with this music genre thus started rhyming by the age of 9 after his grandfather bought him a set of DJ equipment. Afterwards developed his own demo tape with the hope to land a record deal in his effort to establish a rapping career, apparently it was around this time that he invented the name of LL Cool J which stands for Ladies Love Cool James. Tirelessly sent his works to some music labels, the creative teenager finally able to draw the attention of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin who at that time had just formed a recording company called Def Jam. Impressed with his natural talent, Rubin thus decided to sign him under this fledgling label in 1984, subsequently helped the 16-years-old boy to compose his debut also the company's first single, “I Need a Beat”, and released it in the same year.
To their delight, the song surprisingly became an underground hit, selling around 100,000 copies, unquestionably catapulted both the label and the artist to public attention. Following this initial attainment, LL, who already gave up his high school study, confidently launched his full-length album, “Radio”, in late 1985 and again encountered success as this piece of work wonderfully was certified Platinum after scored a tremendous domestic sale of one million copies. Contained hit tracks, like “I Can't Live Without My Radio” and “Rock the Bells” which both managed to enter the top 20 of Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, “Radio” thus became one of the most popular albums of that year, bringing LL's name to wide recognition across the country.
Still maintained his knack in making great songs, he came up with his sophomore effort, “Bigger and Defer”, in 1987 to satisfyingly obtain a bigger achievement when the album soared to the third rank of The Billboard 200 while also obtained double Platinum status from RIAA. In the meantime, one of its songs entitled “I Need Love” gloriously topped Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks besides became the first composition of him to penetrate the top 20 of The Billboard Hot 100, undoubtedly gave large contribution in propelling LL to be a major rap/hip-hop artist of his generation. Releasing another album, “Walking With a Panther”, by 1989, this charming rapper eventually encountered his career's highlight in 1992 as he fantastically gained a Grammy Award in Best Rap Solo Performance category through his title song of “Mama Said Knock You Out” from his 1990 album.
Accomplished his goal in music scene, LL then began to shift his attention to film industry, the field he had been familiar with from the time he became an extra in "Krush Groove" (1985). Marked his real foray in big screen production with a role as a NYPD detective in “The Hard Way” (1991), he delightfully encountered a chance to star alongside Robin Williams in “Toys” (1992) before returned to the recording studio to work on his fifth album, “14 Shots To The Dome”, which later touched the market in 1993. Undergoing double profession in the world of entertainment apparently did not lessen his craft in making sensational tunes as he once more won the Best Rap Solo Performance category at Grammy Awards in 1997 through “Hey Lover”, his single from his 1995 work, “Mr. Smith.” Meanwhile, he continued his acting career quite steadily, being involved in NBC's comedy series of “In the House" (1995-1999), a film feature entitled “Out-of-Sync” (1995), and a TV-movie project called “The Right to Remain Silent” (1996).
The rest of the 1990s saw LL solidified his position in both music and acting for his seventh studio work, “Phenomenon”, scored Platinum after being launched in 1997 while his three flicks, namely “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” (1998), “Deep Blue Sea” (1999), and “Any Given Sunday” (1999) all became box-office hits with the domestic income above 55 million U.S. dollar. His star shone more radiantly by the time he entered the third millennium when his next album, “G.O.A.T. feat. James T. Smith: The Greatest of All Time”, strived to the top spot of The Billboard 200 in 2000 and “Charlie's Angels”, the movie he starred in that year, scored tremendous result of more than $264 million in its international run. Carefully balancing his involvement in these two fields, he went on producing another musical work simply entitled “10” in 2002, then joined Colin Farrell plus Michelle Rodriguez to film “S.W.A.T” (2003).
Smoothly released his 11th album, “The DEFinition”, in 2004, LL seemed to put his concentration on acting afterwards for he was seen more in Hollywood productions, like “Mindhunters”, “Edison”, and “Slow Burn” which all came up in 2005. Kept being active in portraying characters by 2006 through “Last Holiday” also “Heartland”, this attractive guy finally ended his one-year hiatus in music as an album has been slated to appear by March of the year with the title of “Todd Smith.” Concerning his love life, LL once had established a relationship with Quincy Jones' daughter, Kidada, but ultimately gave his heart to Simone Johnson who has given him a son named Najee in 1989 and a daughter, Italia, in 1990 before they got married by 1995. The couple then happily added two more family members, Samaria in 1995, and Nina Simone by the year 2000.
Marked the beginning of 2006, LL would likely to have his album "Todd Smith”, which was the follow up to his 2004 album "The Definition", released on March 21. The set among others consist tracks like "It's LL and Santana" featuring Juelz Santana, "Control Myself" featuring Jennifer Lopez and Jermaine Dupri, and "Favorite Flavor" featuring Mary J. Blige.