LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells business has secured $8 million in a Series A funding round led by a significant investment from venture capitalists Raine Ventures. A press release states the funding will be used to bolster the brand’s content, commerce and direct-to-consumer initiatives.
“This funding will help us accelerate our growth and team-building efforts to make sure we can further uplift the people and culture at the forefront of hip hop through exciting e-commerce collaborations, storytelling, and experiences,” Cool J said in the statement.
Other companies participating in the Series A funding round include M13, Redpoint Ventures, Harris Barton Asset Management and Willoughby Holdings. Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang is on board, as is the former President of Oracle Charles Phillips, NBA champion Andre Iguodala, and Shady Records CEO Paul Rosenberg.
The aforementioned investors join Mark Cuban, Egon Durban, entertainment executive Irving Azoff and Henry Louis Gates Jr. plus a handful of old school hip hop artists who have stake in the company.
LL’s media hub, which he’s dubbed “the home for all things classic and timeless hip hop,” includes his Sirius XM radio channel, a burgeoning website complete with branded content and a web store that sells Rock The Bells merchandise, MCM bags, face masks and Nike sneakers.
The Queens-bred actor, author, and entrepreneur launched Rock The Bells in 2018 with a vision of honoring hip hop’s originators and the core elements of the culture.
LL’s upstart company is named after the song “Rock the Bells” he released in 1985 at the age of 17. It was produced by Rick Rubin and served as the third single off his debut studio album Radio.
Last year, the hip hop heavyweight spoke to Forbes about his company’s expansion. “I think we have the content, we have the commerce and we have the experiential – which will really get big when we come with some of our virtual things in 2021. But we are very well positioned for it. And we’ll get better at it,” Cool J said. “This Generation X customer has basically been forgotten, right? It’s either been OK Boomer or millennials. And Gen X has been kind of like a lost middle child. And I said, ‘You know what? This hip-hop customer, this core fan, still has buying power. They still care. They still love their artists. They still love the culture. And we are poised to give them the type of experiences that they’re going to love.’ They can learn things that they didn’t know about some of their heroes. And those stories will go on and get deeper – and there will be more articles and more stories and more video content about more artists. And it will just keep growing.”