The 20 Best LL Cool J Quotes

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

LL Cool J is one of those rare people who has been in the American consciousness for nearly 40 years. And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The 54-year-old New York-born artist, named James Todd Smith, came up in the early 1980s and released his first LP, Radio, in 1985. The record featured his first hit “Rock the Bells.”

Ever since then, LL Cool J helped to solidify rap music and the culture of hip-hop in mainstream America, releasing a dozen more albums and earning accolades for hits like, “Mama Said Knock You Out.” It was LL and artists like Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys who brought the songs to the masses.

Today, the performer is known as much for his acting roles (and his constant hat-wearing) as he is for his standout music. But we wanted to dive into what the longtime creative has to say about life outside of his music. What are his thoughts on life and love, his craft, and the world at large? Here are the 20 best LL Cool J quotes.

1. “I think when you move past your fear and you go after your dreams wholeheartedly, you become free. Know what I’m saying? Move past the fear.”

2. “Stay focused, go after your dreams and keep moving toward your goals.”

3. “I’m not trying to keep up or adapt. I’m allowing myself to grow, evolve and create new music.”

4. “Dreams don’t have deadlines. I’m thinking of doing bigger and better things and having more fun with it.”

5. “You have to always continue to strive no matter how hard things get, no matter how troubled you feel. No matter how tough things get, no matter how many times you lose, you keep trying to win.”

6. “You can’t let your past hold your future hostage.”

7. “You’ve got to stay focused without being boring—because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Skinny, but dull.”

8. “I’m not just a rapper. I’m an entertainer. That’s the difference.”

9. “Nobody is perfect, but life is about choices.”

10. “To know the rules of the game, you have to be educated.”

11. “We need to make sure that there’s art in the school. Why? Why should art be in the school? Because if art isn’t in a school, then a guy like Steve Jobs doesn’t get a chance to really express himself because in order for art to meet technology, you need art.”

12. “I’m a real person that cares about his art and cares about what he’s doing. I have a heart and a soul and I want to touch people and give.”

13. “What is more important than the name is that people know that I really like acting, I enjoy it and I want people to know that I am serious. The name thing: I will always be L.L. Cool J.”

14. “To me, my peers are Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger. I’m not talking age-wise but in terms of careers. Madonna. Those are my peers. And I’m okay with that.”

15. “I think fitness is important. I think a healthy lifestyle is important. I think putting positive energy out there is important and just staying connected with the people.”

16. “I don’t look back. I don’t live my life in the rear-view mirror because, if you do, you’re bound to end up wrapped around a pole somewhere.”

17. “I don’t think you should go around talking trash about people because I think that’s how you get your hat handed to you.”

18. “I am artistic so I reserve the right to change my mind at any point. I just like to do different things. What is more important than the name is that people know that I really like acting, I enjoy it and I want people to know that I am serious.”

19. “At fourteen, I started sending out demo tapes.”

20. “The secret to it all is just to enjoy what you’re doing. This is not working at the coal furnace, this is not sweeping behind a restaurant. It’s work, but it’s not work. It gives me a different type of energy. I’m grateful for that.”

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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