‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Star LL Cool J Recalls His First VMAs Performance During Monologue

by Taylor Cunningham

NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J had the honor of hosting the 2022 VMA’s. And standing on the stage gave him fond memories of his first time performing at the awards show.

“Welcome to the biggest music party of the year, no question about it. The 2022 MTV VMAs. Make some noise,” he cheered as he walked into New Jersey’s Prudential Center. “I remember the first time I hit the VMAs stage. In a lot of ways, we were introducing hip-hop to the world… It was amazing, but tonight is your opportunity to prove that this is the livest and loudest MTV crowd in the history of MTV.”

LL’s debut performance was back in 1991 when he sang his hit Mama Said Knock You Out, which earned him a Best Rap Video Award that same night.

“Make some noise!” LL Cool J shouted once more. “Tonight we’re straight out Jersey! Are you ready to have some fun?!”

LL Cool J led the night, but he had some help from two co-hosts, Harlow and Nicki Minaj.

LL Cool J’s VMA Performance Began With an Appearance From Johnny Depp

Interestingly, the singer and actor didn’t only remember his first VMA performance, he also re-lived it. Early in the night, he sang the same song for the crowd. And it began with a cameo by a surprise celebrity, Johnny Depp.

The appearance marked the Oscar nominee’s first since his highly publicized trial. During it, he played the iconic MTV Moonman.

Depp dropped in just after Lizzo sang 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready). As she began to leave the stage, the astronaut slowly fell from the sky. And while he did, he lifted his vizor to a screaming crowd.

“Hey, you know what?” he said. “I needed the work.”

LL Cool J headed out to the amped audience to sing his classic hit. Then following that and a commercial break, Depp popped back in for a second appearance.

While suspended in the air, he shouted, “Hey VMAs, let’s get back to the f—ing music, shall we?”

“I just wanted you to know that I’m available for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, wakes, any old thing you need,” he joked. “Anything. You name it. Oh, I’m also a dentist.”

The segment came two months after the actor’s lawsuit against his ex-wife, Amber heard. The case ended when a judge awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages after Heard said she was a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” The latter, however, was reduced to $350,000, which is Virginia’s statutory cap.