My, has LL Cool J grown. Before Drake, it was LL who captured the hearts of female fans with rap love ballads, and before Kendrick Lamar was redefining rap’s competitive line, it was LL who was ready to take on all challengers.
From music to movies, the Queens, New York, native has set a lasting impression on today’s MCs and on Sunday, Ladies Love will set another benchmark as he returns to the 2014 Grammy Awards as a host for the annual ceremony for the third consecutive year.
To celebrate the feat, MTV News celebrates 11 things you may not have known about LL Cool J.’
1. His First Movie Role Came Before His First Album
Thanks to a successful recording career, LL Cool J was able to make real strides in Hollywood, but the rapper landed a cameo in the 1985 movie “Krush Groove” a few weeks before his debut album was released.
2. He Licks His Lips, A Lot
LL is loved for his lyrics, but he’s also known for licking his lips — a move the ladies really appreciate. During last year’s televised portion of the Grammy Awards, the rapper/host licked his lips a total of 46 times. Yes, we counted!
3. He Has a 22 Percent Winning Record At The Grammys
LL has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards in his career and has won twice, in 1992 and 1997 for Best Rap Solo Performance.
4. He Used To Own A Piece Of Def Jam
LL isn’t always celebrated for his business savvy, but he did quite well for himself earning an ownership stake in Def Jam Records> (But he did admit that selling the shares in 1996 was a bit of a mistake.)
5. He Only Has One #1 Album
James Todd has 13 albums, but surprisingly only one of his LPs topped the Billboard 200, 2000′s G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All-Time).
6. He Once Fought Jamie Foxx
LL is no stranger to rap beef, but he entered new territory in 1999 when he came to blows with his “Any Given Sunday” co-star Jamie Foxx while they were filming a scene from the Oliver Stone film.
7. He’s Proud To Have Paved The Way For Drake
Before the Queens MC came along, it wasn’t really cool to rap for the ladies, but LL created new possibilities when he dropped “I Need Love” in 1987. “I’m glad he decided to go that lane,” he told MTV News of Drake.
8. He Loves Ginger Ale
Mr. Smith struck as more as a cola guy, especially considering he’s appeared in commercials for both Pepsi and Coca-Cola, but LL’s favorite soda is actually ginger ale.
9. Rick Rubin Was His Yoda Years Before He Even Met Kanye
Before he overlooked production on Kanye West’s Yeezus or laid on Jay Z’s Magna Carta couch, Rick Rubin produced LL’s 1985 debut Radio.
10. He Loves His Mama
After the rapper saw his demo tape rejected from several record companies, his mom used her tax refund to buy a teenage LL some new recording equipment to cut a new demo.
11. He Doesn’t Fight Crime Just On TV
You may know LL as special agent Sam Hanna on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” but the rapper/actor has fought crime in real life as well. After a man broke into his home in 2012, LL took matters into his own hands, beating up the intruder and detaining him until the police came.