The 2017 Kennedy Center Honorees have finally been announced, and among them is rapper LL Cool J who has become the first solo hip hop artist to land the honour. Of course, that doesn’t change his own political stand-point regarding the current president, but then the ceremony isn’t all about Donald Trump.
LL Cool J at Summer TCA Tour
Following Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest becoming the Kennedy Center’s first artistic director for hip hop culture last year, now LL Cool J – real name James Todd Smith – has become the very first honoree in a move made to expand genre diversity.
‘To knock the door down for a new genre – the word is just ‘dope!’ The 49-year-old told the New York Times. ‘To be able to come from the corner of Farmers Boulevard in Queens, banging on a garbage can, all the way to the Kennedy Center Honors, that’s a long journey.’
Many might assume that LL Cool J would use the opportunity to express his antipathy towards the current political state of the country, having previously been vocal about his support for former President Barack Obama in his 2010 book, but the official gala in December is all about the people celebrated there.
‘I don’t have any stunts planned. I’m not saying I need to be there backslapping and all of that, but this time, this one ain’t about him’, he continued. ‘I’m not going to block my blessings or let the political divide stop me from embracing my art. I’m banking on the goodness and the optimism of people to say: ‘You know what? I get it. Let this guy have this honor.”
More honorees include Norman Lear, who is refusing to attend the awards reception; Gloria Estefan, who plans to make her feelings about immigration known at the event; Lionel Richie, and Carmen de Lavallade.