LL Cool J is celebrating being the first rapper to be a Kennedy Center honoree. On Saturday night (Dec. 2), the G.O.A.T. was saluted at a pre-gala dinner for the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors.

LL Cool J, whose real name is James Todd Smith, is among a distinguished list of honorees, which included legendary singer-songwriter Lionel Richie, choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, pioneering television producer Norman Lear and singer and humanitarian Gloria Estefan.

LL Cool J went on his Instagram account to shared photos of himself and other honorees at the event.

"I believe that we are built to do anything we put our minds and proper actions to. You have all the tools inside you that are required for you to fulfill your GOD given purpose," he wrote. "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 1212 Let’s ride!!"

In an interview with Reuters, LL Cool J expressed his joy of being enshrined at the Kennedy Center.

“I’ve never been more inspired,” he said. “It’s a reminder that art matters.”

The 2017 Kennedy Center Honors will air on Dec. 26 at 9PM ET on CBS.

LL Cool J 2017 Kennedy Center Honors
Ron Sachs, Getty Images

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