Rapper and actor LL Cool J received the 2,571st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Thursday, honoring a recording career that made him the first rap artist to amass 10 consecutive platinum-plus selling albums.
The ceremony was a week after his birthday and slightly more than three weeks before he hosts the Grammys for the fifth consecutive year.
"The first word that comes to my mind is gratitude," he said. "I'm so appreciative of this honor."
Queen Latifah and Sean "Diddy" Combs joined him in speaking in the ceremony in front of the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard.
"If you Wikipedia him, his career says, 'From 1984 to Present,' said Latifah. "That's longevity, stick-to-itiveness, perseverance. Most of all, he lives in our hearts as fans. This was one of the first people I saw with a radio come out on his shoulder that was the same size of the radios that we were carrying around in the 'hood."
Born James Todd Smith on Jan. 14, 1968, in Bay Shore, New York on Long Island and raised in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, he adopted a stage name meaning Ladies Love Cool James.
LL Cool J began his career in 1984 with Def Jam Records. He is tied for third for most Billboard chart debuts by a rapper. All but one of his 14 albums did not reached Billboard's rhythm and blues/hip-hop chart Top 10.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
"It was like watching a superhero," said Combs. "This guy was just glowing. He had this glow to him, this smile, this charisma. He's been a leading example to all of us."
LL Cool J won Grammys for best rap solo performance in 1991 for "Mama Said Knock You Out" and 1996 for "Hey Lover."
He has also had an extensive acting career and is best known for his role as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna on the CBS crime drama "NCIS: Los Angeles." His film credits include "Deep Blue Sea" and "Any Given Sunday."