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James Todd Smith, better known by his rap moniker LL Cool J, celebrated his 53rd birthday this week. We just want to know, where’d the time go?!

The Hip-Hop OG has been in the game since the ’80s and has released a total of 13 studio albums in that time. Like most creatives, LL is multifaceted — he crossed over into the acting game, appearing in countless onscreen roles across television and film. To name a few, there was his infamous ’90s sitcom In The House, Oz, Deep Blue Sea, In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, Charlie’s Angels, Deliver Us From Eva, NCIS: Los Angeles… and the list goes on. Presently, he plays Sam Hanna on NCIS and cohosts Lip Sync Battle. Heavily awarded, LL has two Grammys (Best Rap Solo Performance for his songs “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Hey Lover,” respectively). And, he’s been nominated by the Recording Academy 7 additional times. James is no slacker…

But, all that said, the husband and proud dad is still the around the way guy from Queens, who loves to stay close to his fans and family. Hitting Instagram to celebrate his big day, he posted a photo of his at-home bday decor and reposted shoutouts in his Story.


Below are more photos from his time in the industry… take a quick trip down memory lane with us and salute the king!

1. Riding the bus in Queens, NY, circa 1985.

LL Cool J riding the bus, Queen's New York USA 1985 Source:Getty

2. LL holds a boombox outside of a concert, circa 1986.

LL Cool J Source:Getty

3. Spotted filming “I Need Love” in 1987.

LL Cool J In Limousine Source:Getty

4. All smiles.

Portrait Of LL Cool J Source:Getty

5. Salute the King!

Rapper LL Cool J Barechested Wearing a Crown Source:Getty

6. On stage at the 2000 Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas.

2000 Radio Music Awards Source:Getty

7. Showing off for the ladies at the 2002 MOBO Awards.

LL Cool J MOBO Awards Source:Getty

8. In true LL style…

LL Cool J MOBO Awards Source:Getty

9. He cleans up nice.

Patrick McMullan Archives Source:Getty

10. Dapping up singer Mario at the 2008 Diamonds Give Greenhouse New York Fundraising Event.

Diamond Empowerment Fund's Diamonds Give 2008 Greenhouse New York Fund Source:Getty

11. Hitting up ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.’

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Season 5 Source:Getty

12. Flicking it up with Quincy Jones and Wayne Brady.

2014 Ebony Power 100 List - Inside Source:Getty

13. LL Cool J at the BIG3 Championship at the Barclays Center.

BIG3 - Championship Source:Getty

14. LL Cool J performs at Lollapalooza 2018.

2018 Lollapalooza - Day 3 Source:Getty

15. Getting into character for ‘NCIS: Los Angeles.’

NCIS: Los Angeles Source:Getty

16. All smiles on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.’ Happy Birthday, LL!

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 7 Source:Getty