LL COOL J
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Arts
LL COOL J is an entertainment icon who has found great success crossing into multiple mediums. He is a two-time Grammy Award winner, recording artist, actor, author, NAACP Image Award winner, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
LL—whose real name is James Todd Smith—began in the nascent, burgeoning rap and hip-hop scene of the 1980s, which developed into the musical and cultural phenomenon that is today’s hip-hop. More than 25 years since he first burst onto the scene, LL continues his vibrant, trailblazing career. First introduced to the world in 1984 as a Def Jam Records flagship artist, he is the first rap artist to amass 10 consecutive platinum-plus selling albums. The multi-platinum artist is currently tied for third place for most Billboard chart debuts by a rapper.
As an actor, he currently stars in the top-rated CBS prime-time drama series, NCIS: Los Angeles. His performance on the show garnered him an NAACP Image Award four years in a row (2011–2014); he previously won an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Male Artist” in 2003. Over the years, he has also appeared in more than 30 films and starred opposite many acclaimed actors.
As an author, his works include The New York Times bestseller LL COOL J’s Platinum Workout and LL COOL J’s Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle; And the Winner Is, a children’s book that tells the story of a young basketball player who learns the importance of winning and losing gracefully, which was part of Scholastic’s series of books and CDs by rap artists called ‘Hip Kid Hop’; and his 1997 autobiography, I Make My Own Rules.
Expanding into the digital world, LL has also founded Boomdizzle Networks (www.boomdizzle.com), which integrates patented collaborative technology with innovative digital marketing to change how music is recorded, distributed, and shared all over the world.
An avid philanthropist, he’s been involved in numerous causes, including literacy for kids as well as music and arts programs in schools. Celebrating its eighth anniversary, his charity Jump & Ball—which takes place every August in his hometown of Queens, N.Y.—aims to give back to his local community by offering a five-week athletic and team building program dedicated to bringing wholesome fun to young people. He is also a member of the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet, which raises funds and awareness for initiatives tied to the organization.
LL COOL J, his wife, and family currently reside in both New York and Los Angeles.