LL Cool J: The gatekeepers opened many gates for me


That’s how the rapper, actor, author, and (most recently) fashion mogul described the impact Jews have had on his career.

With the cranes working on the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero looming outside the windows behind him, LL Cool J accepted an award for “racial harmony” on Monday night from the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. For what he received the award was never made quite clear, but LL was undeniably pleased to be there, his million-dollar grin flashing nearly as brightly as the diamond stud in his ear.

“L’chaim,” he began his acceptance speech, to hearty applause and belly-rattling guffaws all around. “You know, this is a great opportunity for me.”

LL went on to name the various Jews “in Hollywood, in music, my clothing line” that have helped him over the years, including Lyor Cohen (an early pioneer of hip-hop) and Rick Rubin (an acclaimed producer and co-founder, with Russell Simmons, of Def Jam Records). He also thanked the foundation president, Rabbi Marc Schneier, though it came out “schnerr.”

“I just would really love to thank you guys, for the love you’ve shown me,” LL said. “I’m very grateful. I’m very humbled. And I appreciate ya.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. LL also appreciates JTA — or more precisely, “the gentleman from the JTA.” That would be me, who, in bantering with LL for a few seconds before the ceremony, casually asked if he had any remarks prepared. He didn’t. But apparently that got him thinking about what to say, so much so that he prefaced his remarks by noting that we had been chatting beforehand. I guess somehow I had a role in inspiring the Jew-naming that followed. Afterwards, LL told me I had been his “good luck charm.”

Cheesy, yes. But everyone gets their 15 minutes. Thanks LL!

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