Everybody from the 1980s and 90s will remember LL Cool J from his numerous radio hits that placed him as one of the greatest musicians of that era. With the full meaning of his name being Ladies Love Cool James, the Queens rapper could serenade ladies with romantic songs such as “I Need Love”, “Doin’ It” and “Hey Lover” as well as appeal to hardcore hip-hop fans with songs like “Rock The Bells” and “Going Back to Cali”.
In recent time, LL Cool J might be better known as an actor and television presenter. He has appeared in numerous films and TV series such as “In Too Deep” (1999), “S.W.A.T” (2003), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (2009 – present), among many others.
Read to find out more about his biography, family, wife, kids, net worth, and sexual orientation.
Early Life and Career
LL Cool J was born James Todd Smith to Ondrea Griffith and James Louis Smith, Jr. on the 14th of January, 1968, in Long Island, New York. He was, however, raised by his mother after she separated from her husband who at one time, shot her and her father during a confrontation.
A young LL Cool J looked to hip-hop as a way out from all that was happening around him. He started rapping at the age of 9, and by 11, he was able to write down his lyrics. His grandfather, who was a jazz saxophonist, recognized his talents and bought him DJ equipment so he was able to create his own demo tapes.
He and his friends coined the name LL Cool J and started to send out the demos to all the record labels in the city. The record got into the hands of Rick Rubin who at the time was a student at New York University. Rubin loved what he heard and reached out to Cool J. The pair got into the studio and made “I Need a Beat” which they sent over to then-artist manager, Russell Simmons. The song began a chain of events that led to Rubin and Simmons joining forces to found the record label – Def Jam Recordings.
Def Jam signed LL Cool J among other huge artists mostly from the New York area and released the song he created with Rubin as his debut track. The single was well received across New York, selling more than 100,000 copies.
Cool J almost immediately dropped out of school to focus on his music career. In 1985, he released his debut album, “Radio” to critical acclaim. The album achieved mainstream success, making him one of the first hip-hop artists to achieve such feat. The album sold more than 1.5 million copies. That same year, LL Cool J made his acting debut in the movie “Krush Groove” which was about the early beginnings of Def Jam Recordings.
In 1987, LL Cool J released his second album titled “Bigger and Deffer”. The album which featured the tracks, “I’m Bad”, “I Need Love” and “Bristol Hotel” eclipsed his previous work and has turned out to be his biggest-selling career album. The album sold more than 3 million copies and spent 11 weeks at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s R&B charts.
Following the success of his sophomore album, specifically the soft songs on it, LL Cool J decided to use that recipe for his third album, “Walking with a Panther”. Although a commercial success, there was obvious discontent from his fan base for the presence of too many ‘soft songs’.
He went back to his roots for his fourth album, “Mama Said Knock You Out” which was released in 1990. The title track earned him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance as it won him back his fans. Over two million copies of the album were sold. During this time, LL Cool J continued his acting career, appearing in NBC sitcom “In the House” and the movies “The Hard Way” (1991) and “Toys” (1992).
His next big musical hit was his sixth album, “Mr. Smith” which had the single “Doin’ It” and “Hey Lover”. The latter won him another Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1997. LL Cool J went on to release seven more music projects, making it a total of thirteen.
LL Cool J continues to appear in movies and TV series and has also had a good career as a TV presenter/host, hosting The Grammy Awards for several years and the show Lip Sync Battle.
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Who Is His Wife (Simone Smith) and Do They Have Kids?
LL Cool J married his wife Simone Smith (nee Johnson) in 1995. The couple has been together since they were teenagers after being introduced to each other by her cousin, one of Cool J’s friends. They now have four children; a son, Najee Laurent Todd Eugene Smith, and three daughters, Italia Anita Maria Smith, Nina Simone Smith, and Samaria Leah Wisdom Smith.
Simone is a jewelry designer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. In 2004, she was diagnosed with bone cancer but has since recovered from the ailment.
LL Cool J Net Worth
LL Cool J is estimated to have a net worth of about $100 million. He accumulated his wealth through album and concert ticket sales as well as from salaries received from his numerous hosting gigs and film/TV appearances. It is reported that he gets paid $150,000 an episode for his work on “NCIS: Los Angeles” which he has appeared on since 2009.
Cool J is also an entrepreneur in his own right. He created the popular 90s clothing line FUBU and has had a deal with Sears to create affordable clothes for families.
Is LL Cool J Gay?
LL Cool J is definitely not gay. He has however spoken kindly about gay people in the past saying that he does not have a problem with homosexuals and how they choose to live their life. He went on to reiterate that he is heterosexual and he loves his wife.