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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, streetwise 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, New York, 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 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. (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. "Control Myself," a hit single featuring Jennifer Lopez, prefaced 2006's Todd Smith album. His 2008 effort Exit 13 would be his last album for Def Jam as the rapper found work as a primetime television star, landing a starring role on CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles. In 2013 he returned to recording, first making news with the track "Accidental Racist," his much-maligned duet with country star Brad Paisley. Another Paisley duet landed on LL's 2013 album Authentic, a star-studded effort with Eddie Van Halen, Snoop Dogg, and Charlie Wilson also appearing as guests. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Exit 13 (Explicit)

1. It's Time For War

2. Old School New School

3. Feel My Heart Beat

4. Get Over Here

5. Baby

6. You Better Watch Me

7. Cry

8. Baby (Rock Remix)

9. Rocking With The G.O.A.T.

11. Like A Radio

12. I Fall In Love

13. Ur Only A Customer

14. Mr President

15. American Girl

17. Come And Party With Me

18. We Rollin'

19. Dear Hip Hop

x

Track List: The DEFinition

1. Headsprung

2. Rub My Back

3. I'm About To Get Her (feat. R. Kelly)

4. Move Somethin'

5. Hush

6. Every Sip

7. Shake It Baby

8. Can't Explain It

9. Feel The Beat

10. Apple Cobbler

11. 1 In THe Morning

x

Track List: 10

1. Intro

2. Born To Love You

3. Luv U Better

4. Paradise (feat. Amerie)

5. Fa Ha

6. Niggy Nutz

7. Amazin' (feat. Kandice Love)

8. Clocking G's

9. Lollipop

10. After School (feat. P. Diddy)

11. Throw Your L's Up

12. You Should

13. 10 Million Stars

14. Mirror Mirror

15. Big Mamma (feat. Dru Hill)

x

Track List: G.O.A.T. Featuring James T. Smith: The Greatest Of All Time (Explicit)

1. Intro

2. Imagine That

3. Back Where I Belong

4. LL Cool J

5. Take It Off

6. Skit

7. Fuhgidabowdit

8. Farmers

9. This Is Us

10. Can't Think

11. Hello

12. You And Me

13. Homicide

14. U Can't F**k With Me

15. Queens Is

16. The G.O.A.T.

17. Ill Bomb

18. M.I.S.S. I

x

Track List: Phenomenon (Explicit)

1. Phenomenon

2. Candy

3. Starsky & Hutch

4. Another Dollar

5. Nobody Can Freak You

6. Hot, Hot, Hot

7. 4, 3, 2, 1

8. Wanna Get Paid

9. Father

10. Don't Be Late, Don't Come Too Soon

x

Track List: All World

1. I Can't Live Without My Radio

2. Rock The Bells

3. I'm Bad

4. I Need Love

5. Going Back To Cali

6. Jack The Ripper

7. Jingling Baby

8. Big Ole Butt

9. The Boomin' System

10. Around The Way Girl

11. Mama Said Knock You Out

12. Back Seat

13. I Need A Beat

14. Doin It

x

Track List: Mr. Smith (Explicit)

1. The Intro (Skit)

2. Make It Hot

3. Hip Hop

5. Doin' It

6. Life As...

7. I Shot Ya

8. Mr Smith

9. No Airplay

10. Loungin'

11. Hollis To Hollywood

12. God Bless

13. Get A Drop On 'Em

14. Prelude (Skit)

15. I Shot Ya (Remix)

x

Track List: 14 Shots To The Dome (Explicit)

1. How I'm Comin'

2. Buckin' Em Down

3. Stand By Your Man

4. A Little Somethin'

5. Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Crushed By Buildings

6. Straight From Queens

7. Funkadelic Relic

8. All We Got Left Is The Beat

9. (NFA) No Frontin' Allowed

10. Back Seat

11. Soul Survivor

12. Ain't No Stoppin' This

13. Diggy Down

14. Crossroads

x

Track List: Mama Said Knock You Out

1. The Boomin' System

2. Around The Way Girl

3. Eat 'Em Up L Chill

4. Mr. Goodbar

5. Murdergram

6. Cheesy Rat Blues

7. Farmers' Blvd. (Our Anthem)

8. Mama Said Knock You Out

9. Milky Cereal

10. Jingling Baby (Remixed But Still Jingling)

11. To Da Break Of Dawn

12. 6 Minutes Of Pleasure

13. Illegal Search

14. The Power Of God

x

Track List: Walking With A Panther (Explicit)

1. Droppin' Em

2. Smokin', Dopin'

3. Fast Peg

4. Clap Your Hands

5. Nitro

6. You're My Heart

7. I'm That Type Of Guy

8. Why Do You Think They Call It Dope

9. Going Back To Cali

10. It Gets No Rougher

11. Big Ole Butt

12. One Shot At Love

13. 1-900 LL Cool J

14. Two Different Worlds

15. Jealous

16. Jingling Baby

17. Def Jam In The Motherland

18. 18 Change Your Ways

x

Track List: Bigger And Deffer (Explicit)

1. I'm Bad

2. Kanday

3. Get Down

4. The Bristol Hotel

5. My Rhyme Ain't Done

6. .357 - Break It On Down

7. Go Cut Creator Go

8. The Breakthrough

9. I Need Love

10. Ahh, Let's Get Ill

11. The Do Wop

12. On The Ill Tip

x

Track List: Authentic

1. Bath Salt

2. Not Leaving You Tonight

3. New Love

4. We Came To Party

5. Give Me Love

6. Something About You (Love The World)

7. Bartender Please

8. Whaddup

9. Between The Sheetz

10. Closer

11. Live For You

12. We're The Greatest

x

Track List: Baby (Radio Single) (Explicit)

1. Baby

x

Track List: No More (Single)

x

Track List: Radio

1. I Can't Live Without My Radio

2. You Can't Dance

3. Dear Yvette

4. I Can Give You More

5. Dangerous

6. "El Shabbazz" Skit

7. Rock The Bells

8. I Need A Beat

9. That's A Lie

10. You'll Rock

11. I Want You

x

Track List: Take It (Single)

x

Track List: We Came To Party (Single)

x

Track List: Whaddup (Single)

Comments

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Women was in pllo hot you hat feel good day
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This is more than a crussssh hey lover
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LL i dont nowhat too do when it come too Ufrom the start one of thebest n my favorite U fire my Sexy Daddy Ms Chay
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Say iPhone 5x

Say a color

Comment this on two other songs!

Look under your pillow
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East F**king Coast.
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starling36
Canibus thrashed him in the battle.
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Ain't no damm womens
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Most are n**gas fool
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Tha hell they ain't n**ga
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1987good beye
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2.1 million people listen to this on Pandora?..so that means 1.9 million of them are women!!!
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pedroso4853
so COOL!����
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bsaunders225
Okay then........
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This Stanley song
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traepar24
Ladies love cool James...
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IH I see you look at me you got up w8ing2xhle18 5 4 4
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I like
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Lol
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Love jam in Brooklyn's East N Y was the best year bring it back in 80 90
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Anyone who dislikes him... LL Cool J said knock you out. :P
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Forget eating Oreo', Eat Cool J Coolies!!
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Rock on
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Big sexy
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enriquealdap e
Sucka mc
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LL CooL J the godfather of hip hop
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I'm bad l l cool I enough say
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DA G.O.A.T.!!!y e a h brotha keep showing it can be done...A-TOW N CLASSIC WORLD WIDE CLASSIC COOL J YOU AH LIVING LEGEND!!!!!! I ' M BAD YO,YO DARE HE GO!!!!
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Definitely the sexiest man alive!
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Rock The Bells
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DA REAL 50CENT TOOK UNCLE L CHAIN!!!!
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You ain't lying, them lips are luscious!
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Those lips tho....
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Ll cool j is my uncle todd so all y'all who think he cute is just dead wrong and disgusting plus he got a wife my aunt Simone
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Cool story about his gramps buying his first dj equip
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I need love
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Fine a**
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Luv u better and paradise my jams
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That's my jam
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b.f.barnes4
Baby my jame I like it I can t for the
Heck my cry
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b.f.barnes4
Luv u better
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b.f.barnes4
I need love my jame
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I ll cool j music
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Uncle L killed this jam.
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Duet, anthenmthmms ?
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The boomin system was the s**t to play if u had a ride with good speakers. The bass in that track was crazy.
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Wasn't really in to him, but FCK I think he bad a**..
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bObcat was iLL !
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"The Breakthrough "
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Text..(617)8 2 9 - 3 5 1 2 (fritzchemsh o p @ g m a i l . c o m )
We sell weed strains like white widow,
Og kush,sour diesel,grand d a d d y purps,
afghan kush and Cannabis oil .
Help in pain relief and cancer.
Also got Actavis Cough Syrup and pills .
Report as inappropriate
b.f.barnes4
Doin it
Show more

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