LL Cool J Earns Kennedy Award

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LL Cool J

BY TRONE DOWD

Hollis-born emcee LL Cool J was awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor on Sunday night, becoming the first rapper to ever earn the award.

The 49-year-old rapper, whose real name is James Todd Smith, accepted the award at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C. The award is the highest accolade that an artist can earn in the United States.

Smith has gained legendary status over three decades due to his music career. He has released 13 solo albums and won numerous accolades, including three Soul Train Awards, two Grammys and four NAACP Image Awards.

He also has a long resume of films and TV shows in which he has starred. He currently stars in the CBS police procedural NCIS and hosts Lip Sync Battle on Spike.

Smith took to Instagram to thank his fans for their support over the years.

“I believe that we are built to do anything we put our minds and proper actions to,” he said. “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.”

Along with Smith, singer-songwriters Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan, TV creator Norman Lear and actress Carmen de Lavallade were all recipients of the award.

Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, tdowd@queenspress.com or @theloniusly

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