LL Cool J has been making music and successfully selling albums for 20 years now. No one else in rap or Hip Hop can touch him when it comes to longevity or consistency. You could compare him to Madonna, noting how LL has managed to keep up with the younger and newer artists, and has remained a musical groundbreaker, rarely following the pack, but forging ahead of other artists by daring to do his own thing.
… at 37, LL has shed the Kangol, but he's still got the baby face, and he's still the biggest slab of beefcake in the rap game — a guy who looks liek he could snap 50 Cent across his knee like a dry twig. On the eve of studio album No. 11, Todd Smith, LL has a hit-making record that no MC in history has come close to matching (27 Top rap singles stretching from 1985 to the present). Few rappers survive to make a third album, let alone a seventh or 11th. Hip-hop's ruthless pursuit of novelty — new voices, new styles, fresh sonic shocks — has frustrated the efforts of even the biggest stars to stay relevant. One by one, the giants have toppled, faded away, or made fools of themselves trying to keep current. In 2006, Run-DMC's Reverend Run and Public Enemy's Flavor Flav are reality TV stars. LL Cool J is a rap star.
LL's formula for success is a simple one: he has stayed true to his signature style for all these years. And, he has courted the female fans, writing tracks that women could enjoy without being bombarded with an overdose of misogyny and blatantly offensive lyrics:
Years before anyone else got wise, LL decided to let other rappers fight over the male audience while lavishing love, and tenderness, and plentiful Mack Daddy moves on women—black women, in particular. In the process he built up one of hip-hop's most loyal fan bases, making sure to stay just gruff enough to appease the fellas. It was good business, but also socially significant, helping bust up the gender gap that for years made the hip-hop audience the most disproportionately male this side of death metal. Judging by "Control Myself," the 2006 model LL shows no intention of conceding his female following to any of hip-hop's current Casanovas. After all, remember what LL Cool J stands for: Ladies Love Cool James. He gave himself that nickname more than 20 years ago, a teenager's bluster that became a marketing strategy, a credo, and a statement of fact—the tagline for hip-hop's longest running show.
"Rap's Immovable Object" [Slate]