->''"Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years!"''
-->-- '''The famous opening line of "Mama Said Knock You Out"'''

James Todd Smith (born January 14, 1968), better known as LL Cool J (acronym for [[ChickMagnet Ladies Love Cool James]]) is an American rapper and actor. LL Cool J was born and raised in Queens, New York, the son of Ondrea (née Griffith) and James Smith. At the age of four, he saw his mother and grandfather shot by his own father. After they recovered from their injuries, his mother began to date a young physical therapist she met while in the hospital. The therapist treated Ondrea kindly, but for years he abused Todd physically and verbally, which resulted in Todd becoming a bully himself. It was during this period that he started wearing hats all the time (one of L.L. Cool J's trademarks is the fact that people never see him without a hat on--until recently). Fortunately, Ondrea finally discovered what this man was doing to her son and left him. He went to I.S.238 Susan B. Anthony Academy in Queens, New York (Hillside). He started rapping at the age of nine. In his youth, LL Cool J performed in the church choir, participated in the Boy Scouts, and delivered newspapers. At age 16, by using a mixing table purchased by his grandfather at Sears, Smith produced and created demos and sent them to various record companies, including Def Jam Recordings.

Under his new stage name, LL Cool J ('''L'''adies '''L'''ove '''Cool''' '''J'''ames), Def Jam released his first record, the 12" single "I Need a Beat". The single sold over 100,000 copies. The success of "I Need a Beat" helped lead to a distribution deal with Def Jam and Creator/ColumbiaRecords in 1985. Soon after, he dropped out of Andrew Jackson High School to record his debut album. He is known for romantic ballads such as "I Need Love", "Around the Way Girl" and "Hey Lover" as well as pioneering hardcore hip-hop songs such as "I Can't Live Without My Radio", "I'm Bad", "The Boomin' System", and "Mama Said Knock You Out". He has released ''thirteen'' studio albums (the first twelve of which were exclusively released on Def Jam Records) and two greatest hits compilations. His most recently released album is 2013's ''Authentic'', which is his first album not released on the Def Jam label.

He has also appeared in numerous films, including two with director Creator/RennyHarlin. He is also interviewed in the 1986 HipHop documentary ''Film/BigFunInTheBigTown'' at a time when he was only 17 years old and still lived at his grandmother's place. In 2015 he adds hosting to his repertoire, in ''Lip Sync Battle.''

* ''Film/AnyGivenSunday'' - Julian Washington
* ''Film/HalloweenH20TwentyYearsLater'' - Ronny Jones
* ''Film/DeepBlueSea'' - Preacher
* ''Series/CharliesAngels'' - Mr. Jones
* ''Film/{{Rollerball}}'' (2002) - Marcus Ridley
* ''Film/{{SWAT}}'' - Deacon Kay
* ''Film/{{Mindhunters}}'' - Gabe
* ''Film/{{Edison}}'' - Officer Raphael Deed
* ''[[Film/TheDeal2008 The Deal]]'' - Bobby Mason as Benjamin Disraeli

And in TV:

* ''Series/{{Oz}}''- Jiggy Walker
* ''Series/{{House}}'' - Clarence
* ''Series/ThirtyRock'' - Ridikolus
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' - Sam Hanna
* ''Series/HawaiiFive0'' - Sam Hanna
* ''Series/NCISLosAngeles'' - Sam Hanna

He now lives in Manhasset, New York, with his wife and four children.

!!! "Ladies Love Cool Tropes":
* ArchEnemy: '''Music/KoolMoeDee'''. They had what was likely '''the''' biggest non-violent rap feud ever.
** Later, Canibus.
* BattleRapping: Several with Kool Moe Dee, such as "Jack the Ripper" and "To Da Break of Dawn", and other self-contaned ones like "Rock the Bells", "No Airplay", and "I'm Bad".
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: His film roles have actually had a tendency to avert this, despite sometimes being in genres such as horror which are notorious for killing off minority characters. ''Film/DeepBlueSea'' was actually rewritten to avert this trope after test audiences despised the female lead and instead wanted his character to live.
* BoastfulRap: Well, let's see... "I Can't Live Without My Radio", "Dangerous", "Rock the Bells", "I'm Bad", "Mama Said Knock You Out"... yeah. He has a few.
* CharacterTic: He licks his lips a lot.
* DirtyCop: "Illegal Search".
* UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfHipHop
* HiddenTrack: On his debut album ''Radio,'' in between "Dangerous" and "Rock the Bells."
** Certain copies of ''Walking With a Panther'' had "UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper," which was originally a B-side exclusive.
* IconicOutfit: The Kangol hat.
* LyricalColdOpen: Many of his earlier tracks, most notably "Rock The Bells".
* MrFanservice: He was one of hip hop's first sex symbols. Also, what his acronym is.
* NeverBareheaded: Even in the "Mama Said Knock You Out" video, he still had his head covered with a hoodie.
* OlderThanTheyLook: He's almost fifty years old, and still looks virtually the same as he did in the 90's.
* ProfessionalWrestling: From "[=Fuhgidabowdit=]":
-->"Cuz I was down before the hype like Wrestling/DustyRhodes and Wrestling/BobBacklund\\
Wrestling/BrunoSammartino, Stan Stasiak\\
Now [[Wrestling/DwayneJohnson The Rock]] and [[Wrestling/StoneColdSteveAustin Stone Cold]] are my favorite maniacs\\
The top rooster pluckin, chickens when I'm cluckin\\
[[Wrestling/{{WWE}} WWF]] stands for When and Where we Fuckin"
* RatedGForGangsta: Considering the success of his ballads, it's easy to forget that he started as a hardcore rapper.
** Well, to be fair, he did include two ballads even on his first album ("I Can Give You More" and "I Want You").
* RecycledLyrics: LL has a ''notoriously'' bad habit of doing this in his songs, reusing lines for hooks and [[ContinuityNod references]]. By the 2000s he started doing it much less than he used to.
* TheRival: Music/KoolMoeDee. Their battles were things of hip-hop legend.
* SelfDeprecation: "Cheesy Rat Blues", from ''[[CareerResurrection Mama Said Knock You Out]]'', mocks his career downfall after ''Bigger and Deffer'' and ''Walking With a Panther''.
-->''I go to the park, they wanna baseball bat me''
-->''I go to the mall, they throw my old tapes at me''
-->''I'm so horny, and every girl I know be like, "he's so corny"''
-->''I want money in a hurry, I'm getting tired of leftover curry!''
* StuffyOldSongsAboutTheButtocks: "Big Ole Butt".
* SubvertedRhymeEveryOccasion: "Jingling Baby (Remixed But Still Jingling)"
-->''I'ma deliver and give a speech with vigor''
-->''Pass the wine cooler you big black...'' (cut to refrain)
* SucksAtDancing: "You Can't Dance" is a message to those who lack dance skill to not even bother trying, lest you make a fool of yourself.
* SurprisinglyGentleSong: "I Need Love", which is often cited as being the first hip-hop ballad.
** "Going Back To Cali" - the beat is minimalistic and jazzy, and his voice never gets above a quiet conversational tone.
* TakeThat: "You Can't Dance", "To Da Break of Dawn"
** "UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper" was meant to be this towards Kool Moe Dee. However, due to LL not taking Moe seriously at the time, compounded with [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-RheuHyp3Q Moe completely destroying him in response]], it's a pretty lacklustre diss track.
** SequelSong: "The Ripper Strikes Back", in which LL redirects his aim towards Canibus.
* TeenGenius
* TropeCodifier: His song "I Need Love" is considered the first "rap ballad", and to this day even the most gimmicky untalented rappers will attempt to have a slow love song.
* UntitledTitle: The sixth track of ''Radio'', which is speaking rather than a song, is listed as "Untitled".
* AWildRapperAppears: Among others, he appears in Music/BradPaisley's "Accidental Racist" and the remix of Music/NeYo's "So Sick".