LL Cool J

James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J, began rapping at the age of 9. Thirteen years later, he released his first studio album, Radio, through Def Jam Recordings, marking the beginning of hip-hop's "golden age." The 1985 release eventually went {latinum in 1989 with singles "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "Rock the Bells" contributing to its success. The New York native quickly developed a romantic style—epitomized by his mainstream breakthrough single, "I Need Love." His second album Bigger and Deffer, was a stepping stone into stardom, while his 1990 release and his fourth studio album, Mama Said Knock You Out, solidified his icon status. The two-time Grammy Award winner has released 13 studio albums and two greatest hits compilations. LL Cool J also has a lengthy acting career appearing in films like Any Given Sunday and had a starring role on the long-running series NCIS: Los Angeles.