LL Cool J Biography
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 losing his hair and began wearing hats often (one of L.L. Cool J's trademarks is the fact that people never see him without a hat on due to male pattern baldness). 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. His DJ later was known as Cut Creator. 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 (Ladies Love Cool James), 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 Columbia Records in 1985. Soon after, he dropped out of Andrew Jackson High School to record his debut album.