LL Cool J is expanding his Rock the Bells franchise, a web site, satellite radio channel and apparel collection that celebrates the history and culture of classic hip-hop.
On Tuesday, the actor and entrepreneur identified a number of strategic investors who have signed on to expand the brand including Redpoint Ventures, Bozoma Saint John, Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Azoff Co., Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments, Glenn Hutchins’ North Island and Eddy Cue, among others. Geoff Yang, founding partner of Redpoint Ventures, is cofounder and chairman.
To celebrate the occasion, LL Cool J teamed with designer Alexander-John on a limited-edition T-shirt and hoodie that dropped on the site on Tuesday. The design features the lyrics from LL Cool J’s Instagram post on the killing of George Floyd formed into the shape of The Liberty Rock, a monument in Queens, N.Y., whose red, black and green colors are a symbol of past and current Black and Pan-African movements. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the items will be donated to Black Lives Matter and LL Cool J’s Jump & Ball Foundation.
LL Cool J also paid homage to the founders and pioneer of the hip-hop movement by providing ownership stakes in Rock the Bells to Big Daddy Kane, RUN DMC, Eric B, Salt-N-Pepa, Fab 5 Freddy, Risk, Crazy Legs, Roxanne Shante and Jonathan Mannion.
“We’re the leading voice that rocks with Gen X and those with a strictly OG [original gangster] mind-set,” said LL Cool J. “Rock the Bells uplifts the people and moments at the forefront of hip-hop, through our best-in-class storytelling, shopping platform and experiences. We’re putting ownership in the hands of the Black community and the pioneers that started the culture.”
Rock the Bells, which launched a successful limited-edition apparel and accessories collection inspired by the heritage of hip-hop in January, has hired a team headed by editorial director Alex Banks, formerly of Highsnobiety, to oversee the content that celebrates the artists and issues that define hip-hop culture.
Rock the Bells’ commerce hub will offer limited-edition drops of DJ/sound equipment, personal care and grooming items, alcohol and books in addition to apparel and sneakers.
Rock the Bells was the title of a hit song by LL Cool J in 1986.
LL Cool J, who started his career as a rap artist as a teenager and now stars in the CBS series “NCIS: Los Angeles,” has appeared in scores of films and television shows, and in 2017 was the first rap musician to receive a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime artistic achievement.