LL Cool J
Grammy winner LL Cool J established himself as one of the first real hip-hop superstars before enjoying two decades of steady musical output and a lucrative side business as a film and television actor. After he helped put fledgling Def Jam Records on the map with his 1984 hit "I Need A Beat," Cool J managed to remain a relevant recording artist throughout his career, parlaying his street smart persona and gym-rat physique into success in action-oriented films like "S.W.A.T." (2003) and the football blockbuster "Any Given Sunday" (1999). Cool J's off-the-cuff wit and smooth charm also found a home in big screen romantic comedies like "Last Holiday" (2006) starring Queen Latifah, and on his own primetime sitcom, "In the House" (NBC, 1995-96; UPN, 1996-98). When Cool J was cast alongside Chris O'Donnell on the successful procedural, "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS, 2009- ), his acting career advanced to a new level of mainstream recognition. While Cool J's crossover appeal cost him some street cred among the East Coast b-boy scene, the hip-hop artist was still selling half a million records a pop and attracting audiences 25 years after many of his flash-in-the pan competitors had long since disappeared from the public eye.