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Paramount Global is getting deeper into business with rapper and NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J.
The media company is leading a $15 million Series B funding round in the actor and musician’s Rock The Bells, the hip hop-focused content, commerce and experiences business.
The investment also includes a first-look development deal with Rock The Bells, which will see Paramount get first dibs on scripted and unscripted film and TV content from the company, as well as the rights to livestream the upcoming Rock The Bells Festival, which will be held in August at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. This year’s festival will celebrate 50 years of hip hop.
The deal also includes marketing support from Paramount for Rock The Bells, and gives the company some rights to incorporate Paramount IP into its consumer products.
Other investors in the round include Raine Ventures, Irving Azoff, Amex Ventures and Wildcat Capital Management.
“This Series B round is a reflection of the confidence that our investors have in Rock The Bells
as a global platform,” said LL Cool J in a statement. “Hip-Hop is an art form that many people doubted from day one, but our culture continues to rise to higher heights! I’m honored that Rock The Bells is leading this resurgence of timeless Hip-Hop, while simultaneously bridging the generations. I’m so excited about all of the amazing things we have planned for the community, fans and brands! This is just the beginning.”
LL Cool J founded Rock The Bells in 2018 as a direct-to consumer content and commerce brand focused on classic hip hop (the name is based on LL Cool J’s third single off his debut album Radio, released in 1985). The company raised $8 million in a Series A round two years ago, led by Raine Ventures.
But the actor and rapper also has a long relationship with Paramount, not only from NCIS: Los Angeles, which is in the midst of its 14th season, but also as a host of Lip Sync Battle and the Grammy Awards.
“Paramount is thrilled to expand our deep relationship with LL Cool J with our investment in Rock The Bells,” adds Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming and events at Paramount. “We look forward to working with him to shine a spotlight on hip-hop culture and icons through music, events and diverse content.”
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