LL Cool J Honored with W.E.B. Du Bois Medal
Arguably rap’s first major solo star, LL Cool J was born James Todd Smith in St. Albans, Queens. From the beginning, he aimed high: “There hasn’t been a rap star yet, just rappers,” he said when he was already on the rise, at age 19. [Today] LL Cool J occupies a rare position in hiphop: he has become a popular figure in the American mainstream who nevertheless retains his credibility.