Tuesday night’s 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors were filled with praise and respect for some of music’s most legendary acts. Although headlines focused on President Donald Trump’s absence from the gala, history was made as Queens rap legend LL Cool J became the first hip-hop artist to be honored at the annual event.
The rap pioneer was praised by Queen Latifah, who spoke before a video was played highlighting LL Cool J’s historic career in music. The praise didn’t end there, however, as Questlove, drummer of hip-hop group The Roots, shared a few words about LL’s nfluence on his musical career — before making way for a performance medley.
DJ Z-Trip and Busta Rhymes hit the stage first. Rhymes — who was dressed in a classic LL Cool J outfit combo of a sweatsuit and matching Kangol hat, performed his 1990 classic “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Legendary ’80s rapper MC Lyte jumped onstage next, followed by Black Thought of The Roots. Finally, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC closed out the heartfelt performance. LL watched from the crowd, soaking in all praise and beaming with appreciation. (Wandera Hussein | Courtesy of Billboard)
Other honorees on the night included Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, Norman Lear, and Lionel Richie. Check out clips of the LL tribute performance below.