LL Cool J was born James Todd Smith. The rap name apparently means “Ladies Love Cool James”.
He was only 16 when he released his first single, I Need A Beat. A year later he had the first hit on the fledgling Def Jam label.
The sound he and producer Rick Rubin found on hits such as I Can’t Live Without My Radio, That’s A Lie and Rock The Bells was harder and leaner than hip-hop had ever been before.