LL Cool J
8.3.2017

LL Cool J Becomes First Rapper to Receive Kennedy Center Honor

LL Cool J continues rocking bells.

The legendary MC-turned-actor will become the first rapper ever to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award at the prestigious ceremony, which celebrates a lifetime in the arts.

Marking its 40th anniversary, the Honors will also salute TV writer/producer Norman Lear, singer Gloria Estefan, dancer Carmen de Lavallade, and singer/musician Lionel Richie.

“I am blown away. This is the biggest musical award you can receive,” LL Cool J told The Washington Post. “To be recognized by your country, and to be able to represent hip-hop as an art form is amazing. I’m surprised, grateful, humbled and honored.”

This will be the first Kennedy Center Honors under President Donald Trump, who garnered criticism for introducing a budget that would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities earlier this year.

A State Department dinner and a White House reception is scheduled to be held before the event. President Trump is expected to attend the festivities, though it is unclear if he will be at the White House reception.

LL — who ties Stevie Wonder as the youngest artist to receive the award at 49 — said that the Honors “is not about the current administration.” He also said he isn’t worried about potential backlash, which artists like Chrisette Michele faced for performing at Trump’s inauguration.

“I could be totally wrong and face a waterfall of backlash, but this is celebrating me, and the inauguration was celebrating the president,” he said. “I’m not going to shy away from being recognized as an artist. It has to be about the art for me.”

The Kennedy Center Honors will take place at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Dec. 3. The show will air Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. on CBS.