Now, depending on your level of dedication to the genre, you may be aware that 2017 is the 30 year anniversary of LL Cool J's second album Bigger and Deffer.
This guy created the rap ballad. For all you newcomers, I'll break it down for you real quick. If it wasn’t for Cool J, then Drake wouldn’t have a platform. That’s how important he was.
The lead single for the LP, ‘I Need Love’ was a huge hit, landing a #1 Hip-Hop chart position in the U.S. and a Top-10 chart position in the U.K. too!
But we’re not here to talk about albums. We’re here to celebrate LL Cool J’s legacy.
His 23-year record deal with Def Jam Recordings is something that has never been repeated in the history of hip hop, and with the current climate, it will probably never be seen again. He released 13 studio albums with them and was still a commercial hit right up until his final album ‘Exit 13’. In an era where it was all about aggressiveness and the fight for power, LL was a pioneer in producing what would become a very popular form of rap.
He created a vulnerable sound but kept his integrity with punchy flows, incredible production value and a great choice of collaborators.
His debut album Radio is still considered by many to be one of the great rap records ever produced. With help from Rick Rubin, the album was pushed into the stratosphere in terms of reachability. Leading to the birth of mainstream hip hop.
Fast forward 30 years and he’s sold 14 million albums in the U.S. alone and countless hit singles to boot.
But the Queens native’s repertoire doesn’t end there…
He actually has quite a distinguished acting career too, as well as hosting the Grammy Awards 5 times! He’s basically entertainment royalty.
You may know him for his role as Sam Hanna in the crime drama NCIS: Los Angeles. The show has been running for 8 years and has over 190 episodes. The opening show gathered 18 million viewers, and ratings have been steady ever since. LL Cool J can’t miss at this point. The guy is an entrepreneur, visionary and his career goes from strength to strength.
We salute you, Todd Smith.