Proof That LL Cool J Was Once A Very Cool Rapper

No, really, the guy on “Accidental Racist” is the same badass who recorded “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Mind-boggling, but true.

1. If you think of LL Cool J now, you might think of him as the guy who has hosted the past two Grammy Awards ceremonies…

Jordan Strauss / AP

2. Or as one of the stars of the enormously popular CBS series NCIS: Los Angeles.

Seriously, this show is gigantic. In its current season, it averages about 17.9 million viewers per episode.

3. You may have also heard his verses on “Accidental Racist,” his collaboration with country star Brad Paisley.

It’s kinda embarrassing.

4. LL is more successful than ever, but it’s easy to forget – or just not know – that he is one of the most important figures in the history of rap.

5. He was a pioneer of hip-hop, and one of the first rappers to appear on national television.

6. His debut single, “I Need A Beat,” was the second single released by Def Jam.

7. He wasn’t just a fierce emcee. LL was also crucial in popularizing old school hip-hop fashion trends.

9. LL hit his stride in the late ’80s with a string of amazing singles that showcased his arrogant alpha male charisma. Like “I’m Bad”…

10. … or this cuckolding anthem…

11. …this deadpan ode to butts.

12. He reached his pinnacle in 1990 with Mama Said Knock You Out.

13. Have you heard the title track recently? It’s one of most alpha songs in the history of music, just pure blunt force, aggression, and adrenaline.

14. It’s a diss track directed at Kool Moe Dee, and it’s so brutal that it makes you want to find him and give him a hug.

It’ll be okay, Kool Moe Dee.

15. LL performed “Mama Said…” live on MTV Unplugged and it was one of the best things in the long history of that show. It’s somehow even more intense when you can watch him prowling the stage like he’s Muhammed Ali.

This was the first acoustic rap performance to ever air on television, by the way.

16. He could go hard, but he was also a pioneer of rap ballads. The same album gave us the incredibly smooth “Around the Way Girl.”

17. He had a lot more competition in the early ’90s, as rap grew and became a huge force in the mainstream, but he kept knocking out hits, like the immortal “Doin’ It.”

18. He also teamed up with Method Man, Redman, and DMX for “4, 3, 2, 1” in 1997. They were all in their prime, but he more than held his own.

19. It’s safe to say that LL has fallen off in the past decade of his career, but it’s not as if he’s been putting out total junk. And besides, his early career set expectations sky high.

And, like, if you compare him to other rappers of his generation, who else can really say they have a similar track record?

20. Even if you think his current music is garbage, you can’t take away LL Cool J’s achievements, or the debt of gratitude hip-hop culture owes him for bringing rap into the mainstream.

21. And, failing that, you should probably be careful about dissing anyone who is this ripped.

Check out more articles on!

  Your Reaction?

    Starting soon, you'll only be able to post a comment on BuzzFeed using a Facebook account or via our app. If you have questions or thoughts, email us here.


    Now Buzzing