It’s easy to see why hip hop is now the most popular music in the States. It has one of the longest Billboard-charting albums of all time, an archive at Harvard, routinely tops the charts, has its own day in New York, and — as of 2017 — its first Songwriters Hall Of Famer.
Now, it will have its very first Kennedy Center honoree.
LL Cool J will receive Kennedy Center Honors this year, and will be joined by Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie, Norman Lear and Carmen de Lavallade. NPR reports that he will be the very first hip hop artist to receive the acclaim, which acknowledges the lifetime achievements of contributors to American culture.
At 49, LL will be the Kennedy Center’s youngest honoree since Stevie Wonder, who was honored at the 22nd Kennedy Center Honors back in 1999.
“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,'” LL said in a statement. “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,” he says. “To be the first rap artist honored by the Kennedy Center is beyond anything I could have imagined. I dedicate this honor to the hip-hop artists who came before me and those who came after me. This simply proves that dreams don’t have deadlines. God is great.”
The 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS on Tuesday, December 26th.