LL Cool J’s career has been a long-lasting and exceptional one that has seen the Queens emcee (real name James Smith) organically transform from a b-boy to a platinum-selling artist and actor.
However, before he transitioned into the world of Hollywood, Smith had an unfathomable amount of success as a musician, and during the 1980s and early-90s, he was one of the most prominent solo artists.
As a lyricist, LL Cool J was one of hip-hop’s early stars. With the power of Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons as part of Def Jam, Smith’s 1985 debut album, Radio became a platinum-certified project and boasted hits such as ‘Rock The Bells’ and ‘I Can’t Live Without My Radio.’
Following Radio, LL Cool J released two more albums, Bigger And Deffer and Walking With A Panther. However, in 1990, Smith released his highly successful fourth album, Mama Said Knock You Out. One of its most well-known singles is the project’s title track ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’, which, due to its excellence, won Smith the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
As such an important figure in hip-hop, in 2021, Smith got inducted into the ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where he teamed up with his fan Eminem to perform ‘Rock The Bells’ at the ceremony in Cleveland.
That said, LL Cool J has his own hip-hop idols, and in an interview on The Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, he listed who would be on his rap Mount Rushmore.
“In terms of collaborators, I’d say DMX because I introduced him to the world Eminem because he’s one of the collaborators on my new record, Method Man, because I just love working with him. He done a great job on ‘4, 3, 2 1’ and Biggie because we did ‘Flava In Ya Ear!'” You can watch LL Cool J’s interview with Hoda and Jenna in the video below.
LL Cool J’s hip-hop Mount Rushmore:
- Method Man
- Biggie Smalls