"Keeping it real ain't about carrying a gun or smoking blunts. It's about being true to yourself and those around you."
LL Cool J, aka James Todd Smith, was born in....hmm, seems there are two conflicting accounts as to his birth according to IMDB. I'm sticking with what my townsfolk tell me; Bay Shore, NY. His birthday is January 14, 1968. People call him Todd.

He lived early on in Babylon, New York. I don't think he had a great childhood; when he was four, he witnessed his father shoot his mother and grandfather. After they recovered, his mother began seeing a young physical therapist she met while in the hospital. He was nice to her, but abused Todd behind her back for years. This went on for so long that it made Todd a bully himself.

Around that point, he started to wear hats all the time. Nowadays, it's his trademark; you almost always see LL Cool J with a hat or dewrag in any Hollywood photo. Also, one pant leg is always rolled up.

Finally, his mother found out the truth and left her boyfriend. Meanwhile, he found the perfect way to forget about all his problems; rap. He first started listening when he was nine, I believe he lived in Queens by this time. At age 11, he was writing lyrics and making some songs. His grandfather gave him some DJ equipment, and he gained lots of experience. In fact, besides entertainment, he's had no other job other than paperboy.

When he was 15, his best friend gave him the oh-so-cool stage name LL Cool J, short for "Ladies Love Cool James." In 1984, when LL was sixteen, he met a man named Rick Rubin, an NYU student who really liked LL's music and decided to try to get him a record deal. Together, they made the single, "I Need a Beat," and sent to a record manager named Russell Simmons. Russell loved the single, and in 1985, Rick and Russell created the infamous Def Jam record company, and LL's album was the first to be released.

Even today, LL is considered one of Def Jam's most prized possessions. LL's first album, "Radio," was released in 1985, and this was also the year LL started his acting career. LL first starred in the movie "Krush Groove," which is a semi-biographical account of Russell Simmons' career. LL had a cameo appearance. In 1986, LL also had a cameo appearance in the movie "Wildcats," and he made the theme song for that movie. In 1990, he made a really big hit that people still know the words to, Mama Said Knock You Out. In 1992, he had a part in Toys, with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack.

After that, LL took a small break from film and concentrated more on his music. LL's music career took off, and after every single one of his albums hit platinum selling status, he was (and still is) regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time. After a few years, he had small roles in a few other films, but he was still better known for his music.

All this changed in 1995. By this time, LL was a happily married 27 year old man with three children. His first starring role, which was in the movie "Out of Sync," had also been released. This movie didn't do very well at the box office, but it made the producers at NBC very interested in giving LL a role in a sitcom they wanted to air. This sitcom was "In the House," which finally brought out LL's acting ability. The show stayed on the air from 1995 to 1999. Between and after the time of the sitcom, LL was offered many film roles. His big break in film came in 1998, when he was in the movie "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later." After this film, LL was given bigger and better film roles, and he has acted alongside actors such as Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Woods, Al Pacino, Omar Epps, Pam Grier, Stanley Tucci, and Dennis Quaid. He has a Bacon number of 2.

In 2000, LL was finally rewarded for his acting talents. That year, he won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for the best supporting actor in an action film "Deep Blue Sea," where he played the "token black guy" with a different angle (not a background role). Even though LL's career in film has taken off, he hasn't forgotten his love for rap music. In 1998, he was planning to retire from rap and just concentrate on his film career, but he later decided to keep pursing both talents. Today, LL is not only known as one of the greatest rappers of all time, but he is also known as a great actor.

He co-hosted the 2001 American Music Awards with Britney Spears. In Europe, his hits have carried over too, with his most successful being "I Need Love." He's also performed on a special episode of MTV Unplugged, where he got to rap with a live band instead of his regular DJ. Lately, he was in Rollerball, and took home a $1,000,000 paycheck. He's also 6'3".

His Filmography (thanks IMDB):
Deliver Us from Eva (2002)
Mindhunters (2002) .... Gabe
Rollerball (2002) .... Marcus Ridley
Kingdom Come (2001/I) .... Ray Bud Slocumb
Charlie's Angels (2000) .... Mr. Jones (the cameo opening scene)
Any Given Sunday (1999) .... Julian 'J-Man' Washington
In Too Deep (1999) .... Dwayne Gittens/God
Deep Blue Sea (1999) .... Preacher
"WWF Smackdown!" (1999) TV Series .... Himself
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) .... Ronny Jones, Campus Security
Woo (1998) .... Darryl
Caught Up (1998) .... Roger
B*A*P*S (1997) .... Himself
Touch (1997/I) .... Himself
The Right to Remain Silent (1996) (TV) .... Charles Red Taylor
Out-of-Sync (1995) .... Jason St. Julian
"In the House" (1995) TV Series .... Marion Hill
Toys (1992) .... Captain Patrick Zevo
The Hard Way (1991) .... Detective Billy NYPD
Wildcats (1986) .... Rapper
... aka First and Goal (1986)
Krush Groove (1985) .... Himself

His Discography (from CDNow):
Radio (1985)
Bigger and Deffer (1987)
Walking with the Panther (1989)
Mama Said Knock you out (1990)
14 Shots To The Dome (1993)
Mr. Smith (1995)
All World-Greatest Hits (1996)
Phenomenon (1997)
The G.O.A.T.:Greatest Of All Time (2000)
Super Breaks Vol.3 (2002) X (pronounced '10')(2002)

Thanks to IMDB and Nadiya Edwards.

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