After a decade of waiting — and more than 35 years after the release of his debut album — LL Cool J was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Saturday as part of the Cleveland museum’s Class of 2021.
The “Mama Said Knock You Out” rapper joined fellow hip-hop legends like the Notorious B.I.G., Beastie Boys, Tupac Shakur, Public Enemy, N.W.A. and fellow Class of 2021 inductee Jay-Z with his enshrinement into the Rock Hall.
The rapper had to wait awhile before entering the Rock Hall; he was nominated six times since 2010 before he was finally accepted into the Cleveland institution. But he never lost hope. “You never think about the last at-bat. Athletes go through that. People go through different things,” he previously told Rolling Stone. “At the end of the day, that only makes it better.
LL Cool J was welcomed into the Rock Hall by Class of 2016 inductee Dr. Dre, who previously collaborated with the rapper on the single “Zoom” and, back in the Eighties with N.W.A., served as LL’s supporting act during a U.S. tour, including an infamous stop in Detroit that Dr. Dre touched on his speech.
Read LL Cool J’s entire Rock Hall induction speech below.
Humility. I know I’m supposed to get up here and talk tough and talk shit, but nah. Humility.
I’m not talking about that false, self-deprecating, I-bow-to-you-but-I think-I’m better than you shit. I’m talking about real humility, where you have the confidence to collaborate, the confidence to work with other people. The confidence to celebrate others.
First I want thank, of course, God. My mother, who told me, you know, “Todd you can do anything you put your mind to.” You know, I’m a little kid. She tried to get me to work at the supermarket. I didn’t like it. Wasn’t working for me. “Oh the register will tell you how much money to give back, Todd, it’ll be fun.” “No, ma, no.” [Laughter]
I want to thank my wife Simone, my children, Italia, Samaria, Nina Simone. Yes, that’s her real name, she’s a singer, Nina Simone. Najee, my son, and Italia, all of them. Lamar, my son-in-law, he’s a good kid. Also have some new, some new additions to the crew, so I’ma keep it real. My grandkids, no what I’m saying? I love them too. So much love, King James and Faith. He was named after the Bible, not the baller. [Laughter]. I think. I think. I think. [Laughter]
I want to thank Dre, Eminem and J-Lo for joining me. My man Jason Sloane who has been an incredible lawyer for me and all my stuff I’ve done out in Hollywood and all of that. Michael Hertz, my business manager who won’t let me buy a pair of Converse. But I guess that’s why I’m okay now. Robert Meloni, who’s been like a consiglieri to me. Geoff Yang, my partner in Rock the Bells, we’ve built an amazing company together. AJ Brandenstein, who’s been working so hard with Sloan. Jason Barrett, who’s been with me for many, many, many years and put a lot of loyalty and love into our work. Richard White, who is just somebody who just, you know, does it all to make it happen for us in a great way. Then, of course, Claudine, my manager and COO who makes it all go. She is the only person I know that works a little harder than me.
So really quickly, because I know we’re moving. There’s some people…I wrote all this stuff out. This is too much. Look, I want to thanks Marley Marl and Rick Rubin and all the producers I’ve worked with. The Trackmasters. I want to thank the Treacherous Three, especially Kool Moe Dee, for pushing me. I want to thank guys like Can-I-Bus and people like that who pushed me and really lifted the culture up in a big way. And I want to thank all of you, right?
I’d also like to thank the LL Cool J, Inc. team. They work really hard behind the scenes to make my life better and to make my life great. My Rock the Bells team, James, Howard, the whole crew over there. Snypes. You know what I mean? Just all of it. Everybody over there. So if I didn’t say your name, blame it on the head, not the heart. I’d also like to thank Russell. Russell Simmons, somebody who’s been going through a lot, I know, but I want to give him love. He was there for me, helped me make my dream come true.
I’d like to thank all of the people who voted for LL to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame year after year. A lot people, when I told them when I told them I got inducted, they’d say to me, “Isn’t it is about time?” You see, what people don’t realize is, I wasn’t thinking about the people who voted against me. I was thinking about the people who voted for me. It was love. Like what I was feeling was, “Wow, here’s some people over there who won’t take no for an answer.” They like, “Yo this guy got to be in here and we’re going to keep fighting for you till we get him in here.” So I thank you. Other than that, Queens, of course, Harlem, uptown. Queens, I love you….
The last thing I’ll say is, rock and roll, hip-hop loves you. We borrow your beats. We sample ’em. We turn them into hits. And we know where we came from. We know where things come from….We love and appreciate you.