LL Cool J
He didn’t open the door – he smashed it wide open
Def Jam records chose a teenager as their face when ushering in hip-hop’s second wave, and 17-year-old LL Cool J made an unforgettable impression. He delivered both hardcore raps and sexy love songs with swagger still heard in hip-hop today.
LL Cool J has been called the Little Richard of hip-hop: combining youthful exuberance, massive charisma, and incredible musical talent, they launched their respective genres of rock and roll to fans around the world. LL was still a teenager when he became the face of Def Jam records – his 1985 Radio was the label’s first album. He ushered in hip-hop’s second wave with hard-hitting singles like “I Need a Beat,” “I Can’t Live Without My Radio,” and “Rock the Bells.” LL’s work with Def Jam paved the way for future label mates Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, and Slick Rick.
Through the 1980s LL blazed a trail from Queens to the nation, becoming one the best-selling hip-hop artists of the decade. In 1987, he became the first rapper to top the R&B charts with “I Need Love”. His Grammy-winning anthem “Mama Said Knock You Out” (1991) was a KO heard around the world. Throughout his career, the hits kept coming: “Going Back to Cali,” “Around the Way Girl,” “Hey Lover,” “Doin’ It,” and many more.
LL’s voice is powerful, his flow intimidating, and his swagger mesmerizing. Michael Jackson, inspired by LL’s “I’m Bad,” recorded “Bad” after meeting him in person. LL is equally comfortable with hardcore battle raps (Eminem calls him one of his biggest influences) as he is with sexy love songs (hence the name Ladies Love Cool James). If you didn’t love LL, you wanted to be LL.
LL Cool J epitomizes the entrepreneurial musician. He leveraged his music career into successful ventures in movies, television, fashion, and fitness. The empires run by Beyoncé, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Diddy owe him a debt of gratitude. He didn’t open the door – he smashed it wide open, creating opportunities for anyone who picked up a mic.
“I Need A Beat,” (1984) • “I Want You,” “Rock The Bells,” “I Can’t Live Without My Radio,” Radio (1985) • “I’m Bad,” “I Need Love,” Bigger And Deffer (1987) • “Going Back To Cali” (1988) • “I’m That Type Of Guy,” Walking With A Panther (1989) • “The Boomin’ System,” “Around The Way Girl,” Mama Said Knock You Out (1990) • “How I’m Comin’” (1993) • “Hey Lover” (1995) • “Doin’ It,” “Loungin,” Mr. Smith (1996) • Phenomenon (1997) • “Father” (1998) • G.O.A.T. (2000) • “Headsprung” (2004) • Todd Smith (2006) • Authentic (2013)
Beginning October 9 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. EST on December 9, 2018, fans can cast votes for who they believe to be most deserving of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The top five artists, as selected by the public, will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2019 inductees. Fans will need to login to vote. Voting is capped at one ballot per day.