James Todd Smith, born in Bay Shore, New York on January 14, 1968. He is a rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. Known professionally as LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love Cool James), LL Cool J became one of the early hip hop acts to achieve mainstream success.  His career has spanned more than three decades and expanded past music.
 Smith began rapping at the age of 10, influenced by the hip-hop group The Treacherous Three.  His family, especially his mother and grandfather, were supportive of his music. His grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, bought him $2,000 worth of equipment, including two turntables, an audio mixer, and an amplifier.  By the spring of 1984 16-year-old Smith was creating demo tapes in his grandparents home and sending them to various record companies, including Def Jam, with whom he eventually signed a record deal.
 LL Cool J’s first single, “I Need a Beat,” sold over 100,000 copies, and his first record, Radio, was released on November 18, 1985, to critical acclaim. His hard-hitting style with spare beats and ballistic rhymes combines the vocal approach of hip hop and rapping with the musical arrangements and riffing sound of rock music, pioneering the rap rock hybrid sound.  Thus, the Radio album went platinum in 1989, selling over 1,500,000 copies in the US alone. He has since released 13 studio albums and two greatest hits compilations.
 In addition to his musical accomplishments LL Cool J has appeared in numerous films and television series serving as a TV host for “Lip Synch Battle” and playing NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna in the CBS crime drama television series NCIS: Los Angeles.  He has also dabbled in fashion and has written four books, including his autobiography, I Make My Own Rules, a children’s book called And the Winner Is…, and a fitness book.  He is married to Simone Johnson. They have four children.
 LL Cool J has his own charitable foundation called Jump & Ball, which is based in his hometown of Queens, New York, and offered an athletic and team-building program for young people. He is also involved in many charitable causes for literacy, music, and arts programs for kids and schools. In 2017, he made history as the first rapper to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award.  He is a two-time Grammy winner and in 2021, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with an award for musical excellence.
 Only rarely does a person manage to rack up the accolades LL Cool J has over the years.  LL Cool J has come a long way from his humble beginnings as James Todd Smith.  But it seems he’s not done yet, as he continues to be involved in music, acting, his community, and his philanthropy work.
Adapted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LL_Cool_J; by authority of http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/