Play On: Celebrating the Power of Music to Make Change

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James Todd Smith, better known by his rap moniker LL Cool J, celebrated his 53rd birthday this week. We just want to know, where’d the time go?!

The Hip-Hop OG has been in the game since the ’80s and has released a total of 13 studio albums in that time. Like most creatives, LL is multifaceted — he crossed over into the acting game, appearing in countless onscreen roles across television and film. To name a few, there was his infamous ’90s sitcom In The House, Oz, Deep Blue Sea, In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, Charlie’s Angels, Deliver Us From Eva, NCIS: Los Angeles… and the list goes on. Presently, he plays Sam Hanna on NCIS and cohosts Lip Sync Battle. Heavily awarded, LL has two Grammys (Best Rap Solo Performance for his songs “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Hey Lover,” respectively). And, he’s been nominated by the Recording Academy 7 additional times. James is no slacker…

But, all that said, the husband and proud dad is still the around the way guy from Queens, who loves to stay close to his fans and family. Hitting Instagram to celebrate his big day, he posted a photo of his at-home bday decor and reposted shoutouts in his Story.

Below are more photos from his time in the industry… take a quick trip down memory lane with us and salute the king!