Rock and Roll Hall of Famer LL COOL J was given a key to the city in his birthplace of Queens, New York, at the first “Rock the Bells Festival.” New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams presented the symbolic key for the hip-hop icon’s contributions to pop culture. “Hollis, Queens was represented today at @RockTheBells as the @NYCCouncil celebrated a true Queens legend, the one and only @llcoolj! It was an honor to present him with a proclamation acknowledging his undeniable impact on hip-hop and popular culture,” the councilor wrote in a tweet.
“This festival is my way of showing love to the community of Hip Hop and celebrating the incredible journey this culture has taken, going from DJ Kool Herc’s Sedgwick Avenue rec room, to the global phenomenon we all cherish today,” LL COOL J, the mind behind the festival, told HipHopDX. “Getting to bring some of the most iconic and influential Hip-Hop artists to the same stage, in my hometown and the city that started it all, is an honor and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have in store for them.” The festival featured acts from some of the biggest names in pop culture, including Fat Joe, Scarface, and Ice Cube. The Universal Hip Hop Museum, which plans to create a 52,000-square-foot site dedicated to the musical genre, received a portion of the festival’s revenues.
LL COOL J is an active philanthropist. He has established the nonprofit Jump & Ball in his hometown. Through that organization, the rapper offers athletic and team-building programs for the youth. He was recognized in 2018 by the We Are Family Foundation for his extensive charitable work. He is one of many Black musicians who have given back to their own communities and hometowns.