LL Cool J and Stevie Wonder have something in common! At 49, LL Cool J, born James Todd Smith is tied with Wonder as the youngest musical artist to be recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors for his contribution to music.
LL Cool J, a two-time Grammy winner was one of the first artists to sign with Def Jam Records. He changed the game for hip hop and also holds the distinction of releasing ten consecutive platinum-selling albums.
This is significant for hip hop and LL as he’ll be the first rap musician to be recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors on its 40th anniversary. Others honored include: TV writer/producer Norman Lear, singer Gloria Estefan, dancer Carmen de Lavallade and musician Lionel Richie.
“I am blown away,” LL Cool J told The Washington Post.
“This is the biggest musical award you can receive. 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.”
I’m just glad to say I’ve interviewed the man a few times and that my aunt used to babysit him in Elmhurst, Queens. But on the real, congrats to @llcoolj who will become the first solo rapper to receive the Kennedy Center’s presidential honor. #Major🔑 . . . Respect The Shooter: 📸📸 @boomtownfm #LLCoolJ #TheBig3 #Big3 @thebig3 #Queens
The Kennedy Center Honors commences on December 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. The awards, the first under United States President Donald Trump is a weekend that houses a dinner at the State Department and a White House reception. The awards show will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Dec. 26 on CBS.