HOLLYWOOD — LL Cool J received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Jan. 21, honoring a pioneering recording career that made him the first rap artist to amass 10 consecutive platinum-plus-selling albums.
Queen Latifah and Sean “Diddy” Combs were among those speaking at the ceremony in front of the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard. But the crowd included a host of television, sports and recording industry luminaries, including Russell Simmons, Magic Johnson, Chris O’Donnell and Les Moonves.
LL Cool J spent most of his speech recognizing dignitaries in the crowd and thanking them for the impacts they had on his career.
“Just know that I really, truly and deeply from the bottom of my soul appreciate this award,” he said. “And I want to say one last thing, and that is: ‘If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done; be thy labor great or small, do it well or not at all.’ Thank you grandma.”
The ceremony came one week after his birthday and slightly more than three weeks before he hosts the Grammys for the fifth consecutive year.
Born James Todd Smith on Jan. 14, 1968, in Bay Shore, New York, on Long Island and raised in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, he adopted a stage name meaning Ladies Love Cool James.
LL Cool J began his career in 1984 with Def Jam Records. He is tied for third for most Billboard chart debuts by a rapper. All but one of his 14 albums have reached Billboard’s rhythm and blues/hip-hop chart Top 10.
LL Cool J won Grammys for best rap solo performance in 1991 for “Mama Said Knock You Out” and 1996 for “Hey Lover.”
LL Cool J has also had an extensive acting career and is best known for his role as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS crime drama “NCIS: Los Angeles.” His film credits include “Deep Blue Sea” and “Any Given Sunday.”