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‘Key to Queens’ Awarded to Borough Native LL Cool J at ‘Rock The Bells Festival’ at Forest Hills

Queens native LL Cool J (R) was honored at the inaugural “Rock The Bells Festival” at Forest Hills Stadium on Saturday by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (L) (Photo: via Adrienne Adams Twitter).

Aug. 8, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

Queens native LL Cool J was honored at the inaugural “Rock The Bells Festival” at Forest Hills Stadium on Saturday.

The Grammy award winner, who grew up in St. Albans, was presented with a proclamation by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and the “Key to Queens” by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards in front of around 13,000 fans at the famous stadium.

LL Cool J, 54, Adams said, was recognized for his “undeniable impact” on hip-hop and popular culture, which he achieved during his decades-long career as a rapper, songwriter, record producer and actor.

“Queens was represented today at @RockTheBells as the @NYCCouncil celebrated a true Queens legend, the one and only @llcoolj!” Adams tweeted Saturday.

The tweet included several pictures of Adams on stage with LL Cool J at the sold-out festival. Rock The Bells is a brand-new creation of LL Cool J’s and is named after his 1985 hit by the same title.

LL Cool J, short for Ladies Love Cool James, is also known for hits such as Mama Said Knock You Out, Going Back to Cali, I’m Bad and The Boomin’ System. He also collaborated with Jennifer Lopez on the singles All I have and Control Myself. His real name is James Todd Smith.

The artist has also appeared in numerous films including Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, Halloween H20, In Too Deep, and S.W.A.T.  He currently features in the CBS crime drama television series NCIS: Los Angeles.

Richards was also on stage for the ceremony and presented LL Cool J with the “Key to Queens” and declared Aug. 6, 2022, LL Cool J Day in the Borough of Queens.

“It’s a Queens thing, this is how we do – and no one reps Queens like @llcoolj,” Richards tweeted Sunday.

“Honored to join this legend on stage yesterday… Southeast Queens stand up!”

LL Cool J performed at the festival along with a host of other big-name artists including Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, Lil’ Kim, The Diplomats ft. Cam’ron, Jim Jones & Juelz Santana, Fat Joe & Remy Ma, Jadakiss, Scarface, Trina, N.O.R.E and Digable Planets.

The festival is a new creation of LL Cool J’s — separate from the series of Rock The Bells concerts from 2004 to 2013 produced by Guerilla Union Inc. LL Cool J won a lawsuit against the company for using the trademark name in 2019, according to Billboard.

Another Queens native, hip-hop pioneer and rapper Roxanne Shanté was the emcee at the event. Shanté was born and raised in the Queensbridge Houses.

Prior to the event, Shanté said she was confident the festival would be making a return in the future.

“There’s definitely another one coming because so many people were like, ‘Oh, y’all having a party and didn’t invite me?’” she said to the music website HipHopDX.

“It’s like, ‘No, we’re inviting everybody, but everyone wouldn’t have a chance to get on stage.’”

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