Lyor Cohen demands Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stop overlooking LL Cool J

Lyor Cohen demands Rock & Roll Hall of Fame stop overlooking LL Cool J
LL Cool J (Photo Credit Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Splash News)

The iconic LL Cool J has been on the ballot to be elected into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame six times, but the “I’m Bad” creator has been constantly overlooked. LL Cool J’s longtime business associate and former Def Jam label executive Lyor Cohen wrote an open letter to Billboard explaining the travesty of the rap star continuously being omitted. Cohen has also been a member of the board of directors of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for over 10 years, but revealed he only gets one vote.

“I’m writing not in my official capacity, but as someone who’s been down with Hip Hop since the Eighties. I thought it was important to make the case in public for one of this year’s nominees, my colleague LL Cool J, with whom I worked for years. Mr. James Smith has been eligible for induction since 2010 and he’s been nominated for inclusion six times. But he’s never been voted in. And I think that that failure speaks to the limitations of too many of the HOF’s voters,” wrote Cohen in the letter.

During his plea, the music honcho also paid homage to the Queens, NY rapper’s being the first to introduce love ballads into rap music.

“LL’s love songs may have been even more influential and popular. When ‘I Need Love’ went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart in 1987, it was the first rap recording ever to reach that summit,” he continued. “His good looks and blazing charisma made him one of the first rappers whose videos were played on MTV at a time when very few performers of color were allowed on the channel. He was, as Queen Latifah once noted, ‘rap’s first sex symbol.’”

Cohen also seems to allude that a little racial bias towards hip-hop may be the cause of LL being excluded. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees are chosen by an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians and members of the music industry.

Through April 30, fans can cast their votes on for who they think should be elected. The top five artists in that vote make up a fans’ ballot, which is counted as a single vote alongside the 1,000-plus other ballots. Inductees will be announced in May 2021.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is scheduled to be held on Oct 30, 2021, at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Field House. You can read Cohen’s letter in its entirety at

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