MUSIC

Grammys Host LL Cool J's Greatest Hits (VIDEO)

01/26/2014 02:43 EST | Updated 01/26/2014 03:59 EST

In case you're young and wondering why that dude from "NCIS: Los Angeles" is hosting the Grammys again, it's not because of LL Cool J's "Accidental Racist" duet debacle with Brad Paisley last year.

Nope, Ladies Love Cool James because of the Queens-born rapper's pivotal role in the evolution of hip-hop, breaking into the top 40 by mixing blazing brag-raps with lady-baiting love jams. From his debut rapping "I Can't Live Without My Radio" at age 16 in the Run-DMC movie "Krush Groove" and his mainstream breakthroughs "I'm Bad" and "I Need Love" to his "don't call it a comeback" comeback three years later with the Grammy-winning banger "Mama Said Knock You Out" and even occasional latter-period tracks like "Phenomenon" Cool J has earned his place in hip-hop history.

While LL is more of an actor than a rapper now -- his 13th album, last year's "Authentic," was a critical and commercial bomb -- his Grammys hosting gig is a good opportunity to remember back in the days when he was bigger and deffer.

Best of LL Cool J