The reason LL Cool J became a rapper
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The reason LL Cool J became a rapper

LL Cool J is a well-respected figure within hip-hop. The impact made when he first surfaced in the 1980s was unfathomable, and he has been recognised for his contribution to the culture ever since.

From ‘Rock The Bells’ to ‘Mama Said Knock You Out,’ the emcee (real name James Smith) made hits that have stood the test of time and, as such, in 2021, the lyricist was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for his exceptional feats, incredible accomplishments and success across entertainment and business.

Although LL is considered an icon of the ’80s, his discography spans decades and features various sounds. He has utilised a vast array of aesthetics. Still, Smith has always been a mainstay of the genre and has always been successful when reinventing himself.

From his debut as a teenage b-boy on New York radio to his astounding career as a chart-topping rapper over three decades later, he has done more than enough to cement his status as a cultural icon. That said, during an appearance on the UBS Athletes and Entertainers YouTube series, LL explained to host Ryan Rosegarten why he decided to become a rapper.

Opening up about his New York roots, the ‘Hush’ artist detailed, “I was born in Long Island, raised in Queens, my formative years I spent, obviously, a lot of time in Queens and also a lot of time in Harlem.”

When asked why he chose to pursue a career in music, Smith responded, “The thing that made me want to get into hip-hop was the fact that it was the first time I heard young Black kids sound powerful!”

He continued, “When I was growing up most of the time when you would hear or see any images on TV, most of the time somebody was bent over getting into a police car. That was the marketing tool. That was the way the image of the kids was marketed to us…so to hear these kids actually being powerful, actually talking about success, actually talking about being the best.”

He concluded, “What people looked at as kid of this mindless bragging, in reality were people from such a negative place in terms of self-esteem that the braggadocio and the machismo actually made you feel better about yourself. So hearing that made me wan to be a part of it.”

You can hear the Bigger And Deffer emcee speak about his entrance into hip-hop in the video below.