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LL Cool J aka James Todd Smith
LL Cool J

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LL Cool J

If you have already read either LL Cool J's book I Make My Own Rules or Angus Batey's book Rhyming and Stealing: A History of the Beastie Boys, you may recall the following story of how James owes his start to Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys.

It all started in 1984, when LL Cool J took the time to mail Rick Rubin a demo tape. At the time James Todd Smith was 16 years old, Rick was still running his operation out of his dorm room at New York University. By this point, Rick had released T La Rock's "It's Yours" which the Beastie Boys would later cover in concert while on tour with Madonna (1985). It was from the address information on the T La Rock single that LL Cool J would get into contact with Rubin.

Excited to get a record deal, James called Rubin almost every day. Rick Rubin though had not yet come across the tape. When he did finally get a chance to listen to the tape, Rubin called LL Cool J on the phone and set up a meeting at his NYU dorm room. In his book, LL Cool J said the following about his first impression of Rick Rubin: "He laughed at my reaction to him and invited me up to a tiny room at the end of the hall. Mattresses were on the floor and records are tapes were thrown everywhere. I could see how my tape could have gotten lost. In fact, if it wasn't for Adrock of the Beastie Boys, I might still be sending in those tapes. Adrock had been chillin' in Rick's room, rummaging through all the tapes, and somehow he fished mine out and played it. I guess he liked what he heard and brought it to Rick's attention. My man Adrock: Good lookin' out, baby."

Rick and James would go on to spend $700 to record "I Need a Beat" and sell 100,000 copies of it. From that point on LL Cool J was an entertainment superstar. In addition to his music, James has made quite a name for himself in Hollywood. Having made various appearances on television shows as well as nearly twenty-five movies, time and time again LL Cool J proven that he has range.

If you loved the metal guitar + rhymes recipe of Licensed to Ill, more than likely you'll find yourself loving LL Cool J's early work. Rick Rubin added his signature sound to LL Cool J's first album Radio. After the success of Radio, LL enlisted The L.A. Posse to help him in the recording the follow up Bigger and Deffer. Glen E. Friedman's photo of a young LL Cool J was selected for the cover. However, it was the team of James and Rick which would reunite and create the hit single "Going Back to Cali" in 1988.

Catherine Lincoln Luscious Jackson