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LL Cool J: The First Hip Hop Artist Recognized At Kennedy Center Awards

‘To be able to go from the corner in Queens beatin’ on a garbage can to getting a Kennedy Center Honor with this type of company and to be first is just an amazing feeling’

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James Todd Smith, known professionally as LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love Cool James), is an American rapper, actor, author, and entrepreneur from Queens, New York.

LL Cool J is also known as one of the forefathers of pop rap. He has released 13 studio albums and two greatest hits compilations. In 2010, VH1 considered him to be on their “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list.

Adding one more accomplishment on his list, Kennedy Center Honoree.  The star-studded award ceremony held at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center Opera House is an annual event that recognizes those in the performing arts for their contributions to American culture.  Each year, the president and first lady host a reception in December for the recipients at the White House before the ceremony.

“Yo, this is amazing,” LL Cool J being thrilled about the award. “To be able to go from the corner in Queens beatin’ on a garbage can to getting a Kennedy Center Honor with this type of company and to be first is just an amazing feeling. You know, it just adds another level of legitimacy to hip-hop culture.”

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Kennedy Center Awards 2016

Donald Trump’s negative comments towards immigrants and minority groups, one might suspect that there could be some necessary awkwardness at the ceremony considering that most of the honorees fall into at least one of those categories.

“I do not have any stunts planned. I am not saying I need to be there backslapping and all of that, but this time, this one ain’t about him,” LL said, referring to Donald Trump. “I am not going to block my blessings or let the political divide stop me from embracing my art. I am banking on the goodness and the optimism of people to say: ‘You know what? I get it. Let this guy have this honor.’ In the world of entertainment, I have got to tell you, Mr. Trump has been front and center. That is just what he does. You cannot miss him! Listen, when you say, do you want to sit next to the president or not — are you kidding me? He is the president!”

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