LL Cool J will strengthen his case as one of hip hop’s most decorated and honored artists Sunday night when he receives the Kennedy Center Honors. The man born James Todd Smith, will become the first rapper to achieve the distinction.
“I believe that we are built to do anything we put our minds and proper actions to,” Cool J said in the caption of one of several Instagram posts to commemorate the honor. “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 1-2-1-2 Let’s ride!!”
Over the course of 14 studio albums, LL Cool J has netted two Grammy awards, nine nominations, and he’s hosted the televised portion of the Grammy ceremony from 2012 through 2017. LL has also been nominated for a spot among the 2018 Rock Hall of Fame inductees. There’s also the little matter of essentially carrying Def Jam on his back for the bulk of the late ’80s and ’90s after being signed to the label at 17-years-old.
Since early appearances in Wildcats and 1992’s Toys, LL Cool J has fleshed out his acting resume with roles alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Gabrielle Union and a host of others leading up to his steady role on NICS: Los Angeles.
Other 2017 honorees include Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie and Norman Lear.
If you need further incentive to watch the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors, consider that 2017 will be one of the few years the President of the United States won’t be involved in the ceremony. In August, the White House issued a statement announcing President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump would not participate in this year’s activities.
Although the induction is taking place Sunday, Dec. 3, the 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors will air on Dec. 26, at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.