After more than 30 years in the game, LL Cool J earned the right to proclaim himself one of hip-hop's first GOATs. Being a trailblazer comes with a lot of obstacles, and talking to The Blast, LL explained how one bit of BS led to one of the genre's biggest endorsement mysteries.
Asked if he was ever approached by lip balm companies for endorsements, LL answered, "Nah, they didn't like my black lips back then."
The moniker Ladies Love Cool James branded the rapper as one of hip-hop's first sex symbols. He lived up to this role in various ways but none more overt than his constant lip-licking. Due to his rising stardom, one would assume companies were throwing him boxes of free lip balm. But LL has stated on several occasions that his lip-licking never led to an offer due to the stigma surrounding his facial features.
In 2007 it was reported that LL was negotiating with Chapstick for a deal. “It’s an obvious fit. LL has been licking his lips for 20 years,” manager Chris Lighty told Brand Week. “They’ll get to speak to people who normally would not pick up Chapstick.”
Although it took the country some time, LL Cool J ended up becoming one of rap's biggest crossover stars. This didn't make him forget about the times he was passed over by certain corporations. The best example of this is his infamous Gap commercial. In 1999, LL was tapped to freestyle about the Gap for a series of ads featuring singers and dancers. Unbeknownst to the retailer, LL turned this into one of the wittiest juggs ever. Not only did he cleverly undermine the Gap, he also turned the commercial into a promotion for the black-owned FUBU clothing brand.