LL Cool J said in his autobiography that the idea for the song “Mama Said Knock You Out” came from a discussion with his grandmother. He said to his grandmother that he felt that he couldn’t survive as a rapper now that gangster/hardcore rap was popular and he was being talked about by several up-and-coming rappers; and seen in as washed up. She responded, “Oh baby, just knock them out!”
LL made the transition to acting years ago (from Hollis to Hollywood) and he’s now enjoying a lot of success with his role on the TV hit NCIS: Los Angeles. On his journey from rapper, to actor, celebrity host and entrepreneur, LL didn’t let criticism get him down because he envisioned his goal – the same applies to his working out.
In addition to the eight platinum albums, having starred in several films and long-running TV shows, having won multiple Grammys, LL made another dream come true by receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018 and he joined the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021!
According to the Chicago Tribune, “[as] a kid growing up middle class and Catholic in Queens, life for LL was heart-breaking. His father shot his mother and grandfather, nearly k*lling them both. When 4-year-old LL found them, blood was everywhere.”
Even now, there are days when the 54-year-old doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, but his whole philosophy is about managing to overcome this first impulse and keep on going. That philosophy came from his talk with his grandma. He understood it to mean this:
“You gotta master your emotions, master yourself. What’s that saying? It’s saying ‘A man who can conquer himself is greater than the one who can conquer a city.’ If it’s the right thing, and you know you’re supposed to do it – do it even if you don’t feel like doing it. Knock it out.” the star says.
He believes fitness and career longevity go hand in hand because what’s on the inside becomes apparent on the outside. Similarly, if you stay in the best shape you can possibly be, you will be successful.
LL also says that everyone must learn to listen to only that voice inside and not to loud criticism coming from the outside world.
“The four quadrants of your life are health (exercise and diet), business (going after your dreams and working toward them), family and friends (spending time with them and enjoying them) and the spiritual (giving to charity and being grateful). It’s like a scale,” LL explains.
“The secret to balancing a scale is putting equal amount of weight on both sides. Obviously no one is perfect, but if you always mean to balance the four quadrants in your life, things kinda fall in place,” he adds.
Limiting yourself is the worst thing you can do, he says, because “dreams don’t have deadlines.” Whether it’s fitness or career – or both – you’re working on, you should always visualize yourself where you want to be and work hard to get there, the rapper says.
“Sometimes our opinions of things can be shaped by our opinions of ourselves. If I’m walking around feeling old, then everything I look at is going to be old to me. Everything I associate with me growing up is going to be old. All of the sudden, I’m judging everything based on a personal spirit that I have about my life. We are talking about Hip Hop here. I know you can’t be 17 forever, but I love being on stage and I enjoy it. I put my heart and soul in to it, and I play for great crowds of all ages. For me it’s not about age. I want my career to be about making great shit. If you make cool shit, then you’re the shit and that’s it! It’s all perception.”