In 1985, despite his soft-ass moniker, Ladies Love Cool James belonged to us—the young hardheads who used to sit on our porches blasting hiphop from boomboxes ’til all hours. We would recite his rhymes in harmony on the basketball court, at the lunch table, wherever. To paraphrase Malcolm, LL was the kid we thought we were—rugged, raw, and oozing machismo: “The original Todd, teach ya how to be hard/Take the skin off a snake and split a pea from a pod.” That all changed with the single “I Need Love,” which exposed LL to whole new group of fans—and we only occasionally saw our LL after that. Say what you want about LL and his pop renditions of hiphop, he’s still one of the baddest MCs to clutch a mike. Check LL Cool J signing his new memoir, I Make My Own Rules, at 7 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 429-9272. (Ta-Nehisi Coates)