Thirty-two years after making his storied entry into rap’s mainstream—or, perhaps more accurately, helping to create rap’s mainstream—LL Cool J gets yet another big time accolade. This one comes in the form of the famous Kennedy Center Honor, an award that recognizes artists with a lifetime of contributions to American culture. LL is the first rapper to ever receive this honor.
This year’s Kennedy Center Honor recipients include actress/dancer Carmen de Lavallade, singer/songwriter Gloria Estefan, writer/producer Norman Lear, and singer/songwriter Lionel Richie. Safe to say, LL’s in good company. He spoke on the occasion in an Instagram post.
“I believe that we are built to do anything we put our minds and proper actions to,” he wrote in the caption of a picture of himself at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. “You have all the tools inside you that are required for you to fulfill your GOD given purpose. This one is for those who came before me and those who followed me. We were sent to this planet to love and inspire one another. Manifest our dreams and make them a reality. I hope you’re inspired by me because I’m absolutely Inspired by you. Mic check 1212 Let’s ride!! 🎤 #KCHonors #StateDepartmentDinner #hiphop.”
Ice Cube made sure to give LL his own special salute through Twitter. “Congrats to the homie LL. Raps first solo superstar and trailblazer,” wrote Cube. LL was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in October.