LL Cool J, born James Todd Smith, is one of the most successful rap artists in history. With his 13 studio albums, two Grammy Awards, two MTV Music Awards, and four NNACP Image Awards, the Queens native’s talents have led to success in multiple lines of work over the past few decades.
In December, he secured his place in music history by becoming the first rapper to earn a Kennedy Center Honor, which is largely considered the highest achievement any artist can receive.
According to recent estimates by Celebrity Net Worth, LL Cool J has an estimated net worth of $110 million, which comes from music, onscreen work, and other business endeavors.
Read on to learn more about his net worth.
1. His Grandfather Bought Him a $2,000 DJ System When He Was 11 as an Investment
LL Cool J was born in Bay Shore, New York. He began rapping at age 9 and was creating mix tapes at by age 16.
Cool J began expressing his interest in music at a young age.
When he was 11, his grandfather, a jazz saxophonist, urged him to pursue music. He purchased Cool J a $2,000 DJ system that included two turntables, an audio mixer, and an amplifier. Silver Screen artists reports Cool J as saying, “By the time I got that equipment, I was already a rapper. In this neighborhood, the kids grow up in rap. It’s like speaking Spanish if you grow up in an all-Spanish house. I got into it when I was about 9, and since then all I wanted was to make a record and hear it on the radio.”
It was with his grandfather’s purchase that he started making his own mixes. Eventually, LL Cool J sent them around to producers and labels in new York City, and they landed in the hands of Def Jam Recordings.
On November 18, 1985, Cool J released his debut album, Radio, to critical acclaim. Within the first five months, the album sold over 500,000 copies. By 1988, it had sold over 1 million.
Cool J was just 16 when he released his first single, and it should come as no surprise that he says he never really feels he got to be a kid. In an interview with The Independent, the rapper explained, “I remember my eighth birthday, just walking down the street, feeling completely present. By the time I was 17, I had bought my mother a house. That’s bizarre, looking back on it.”
2. He Makes an Estimated $150,000 on Each Episode of ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’
According to Celebrity Net Worth, LL Cool J makes an estimated net worth of $150,000 on each episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.
He also made a great deal of money on his debut album, Radio, which went platinum with 1,500,000 sales. It peaked at No. 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
His incredibly successful first album was followed by his second in 1987. Bigger and Deffer was produced by DJ Pooh.
Though he has found immense success over the years, life before fame was difficult for LL Cool J. The Independent reports that he was just four when his father shot his mother during an argument. His father then fled for California, and Cool J’s mother’s new boyfriend was physically abusive towards him.
3. He Is an Actor and Has Appeared in a Number of Films
Cool J’s first foray into film was in 1985 in the film Krush Groove. In the 1992 film Toys, he acted alongside Robin Williams. It was just a matter of years before the rapper landed himself his own sitcom– In The House, which ran from 1995 to 1999.
Why the decision to act? Cool J tells The Independent, “I just wanted to have freedom… That’s why I chose to do acting. I didn’t want to be handcuffed to one thing, and now I have options.”
To date, he has appeared in numerous films, including In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, SWAT, Mindunters, and Edison.
He is also the host of Lip Sync Battle on Spike TV– a reality lip syncing competition that welcomes dozens of celebrities each year. It is hosted by Chrissy Teigen, John Legend’s wife.
4. He Owns a $1.575 Million Home in Manhasset, New York
LL Cool J owns a $1.575 million home in Manhasset, New York. The house sits on three acres.
In 2012, a burglar broke into Cool J’s Sherman Oaks, California, home. According to the LA Times, Cool J was “holding” the suspect when officers arrived.
The outlet reported that the rapper was upstairs in his home when he heard an intruder. He went into the kitchen area, when the suspect “came at him”. The intruder reportedly suffered a broken nose and jaw.
5. He Holds an Honorary Degree from Northwestern University
In 2014, LL Cool J received an honorary degree from Northwestern University, according to Business Insider.
Cool J has received a number of other accolades for his work. In 1992, he won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Mama Said Knock You Out”. In 1997, he earned another Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Hey Lover.”
In 1991, Cool J received an award for Best Rap Video for “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Six years later, he was awarded with the Video Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement.
He has earned a slew of NAACP awards as well. In 1996 and 1997, LL Cool J won the Best Rap Artist award for Mr. Smith and Phenomenon. In 2001, he earned the award for Outstanding Hip Hop/Rap Artist for G.O.A.T. and in 2003, he won the Outstanding Male Artist Award for 10.