LL Cool J is making history as the first Hip Hop artist to win the Kennedy Center Honors in it’s forty-year span. At 49, LL Cool J will be the youngest Kennedy Center Honoree since Stevie Wonder.
The Queens rapper, born James Todd Smith, is joined by Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie, producer Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade on this year’s list of honorees. The Kennedy Center Honors celebrate lifetime achievements for those who have influenced American culture through the arts. The honorees will be seated next to President Trump and First Lady Melania on December 3rd at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.
LL Cool J started his rap career at 16, eventually working with the likes of Biggie and Big Daddy Kane. The star rocked the 80’s and 90’s, known for his sex appeal. After all, Ladies Love Cool James. LL traded in his mic for the big screen, starring in movies, taking over NCIS and hosting a myriad of award shows. Last year, the “Mama Said Knock You Out” rapper received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star took to Instagram for special thanks to his late grandmother.
My late grandmother passed some wise advice to me: 'If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done. Be thy labor great or small, do it well or not at all.' That adage has guided everything I have ever done in my life and I couldn't be more grateful because it has led me here. To be the first rap artist honored by the @KennedyCenter is beyond anything I could have imagined. I dedicate this honor to the hiphop artists who came before me and those who came after me. This simply proves that dreams don't have deadlines. God is great.
Traditionally, the list of Kennedy Center Honorees was very limited. Although recent times show some expansion. Earlier this year, the Kennedy Center appointed Simone Eccleston as director of Hip-Hop Culture for the first time in its history.
The Ceremony will be aired on CBS on Tuesday, December 26th.