Over his 30-year-long career, LL Cool J (nee James Todd Smith) put Def Jam on his back and helped define what a rapper looks like — both in personality and longevity in the rap game. We’ve ranked all of his albums in the gallery below, from worst to best.
Taking his cues from fellow Queens rappers Run-DMC, he became the personification of a B-boy with his Kangol hats, dookie gold jewelry, Troop jackets and matching sneakers. In 1985, LL made his mark with Radio, delivering bombastic rhymes over Rick Rubin‘s productions using a sampler and the TR-808 drum machine. It wasn’t until Bigger and Deffer (aka BAD), that Uncle L rose in popularity showed fans his vulnerable side with the classic rap ballad, “I Need Love.”
LL has had some ups and downs in his distinguished career, but through it all, he has been able to bounce back, which also makes him the most resilient MC in the game. Albums like Mama Said Knock You Out, Mr. Smith and The DEFinition all came out at a time when critics questioned LL’s relevance in rap. In every instance, the rap veteran proved the naysayers wrong and showed that he’s not ready for retirement just yet.
In honor of Uncle L’s historic rap career, the Boombox took a look at his expansive discography and ranked his studio albums from worst to best. It goes without saying that LL Cool J is the G.O.A.T. (“Greatest of All Time”) in hip-hop and, yes, he’s still bigger and deffer than your favorite rapper.