by Ms. Black Hollywood,
Nobody looked happier than Kennedy Center honorees rapper LL Cool J and singer Lionel Richie. Maybe they were happy because the current president chose to break a four decade tradition and attend especially since fellow inductee Norman Lear threatened a nasty showdown if the president did show up.
For 40 years, the Kennedy Center has recognized accomplishments in the arts by honoring notable achievements in American pop culture. This year, the center broke with old tradition by ushering in some new trends which included adding the first hip-hop artist to its list of inductees. Rapper LL Cool J is the first rapper to be bestowed the honor of induction. LL has been rapping almost as long as the Kennedy Center has been honoring musical talent. In his 30 year career, LL has become accustomed to a few firsts. His first rap release “Radio” sold half a million copies just five months after its release in 1985 and climbed to the No. 6 spot on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.
In 1986, rappers like Kurtis Blow and Run D.M.C. were trying to overcome barriers and push hip-hop from the fringes into mainstream music. LL’s breakthrough hit single, “I Need a Beat” helped drive the genre toward it mainstream goals and established as the newcomer not to be ignored. Soon he was popping up everywhere from “American Bandstand” to Diana Ross’ tv special.
After a decade of churning out hits like “Momma Said Knock You Out”, “I’m Bad” and “Going Back to Cali”, LL expanded his career to include a new medium with acting roles on TV and on the big screen.
LL made history this weekend as the first rapper to be honored by the Kennedy Center, but he wasn’t only the only trailblazer. Singer Gloria Estefan of the Miami Sound Machine is the first Cuban-American to be inducted. Other inductees included TV writer producer Norman Lear, dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade and singer Lionel Ritchie.
Another first for this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, this was the first time a president was not in attendance for the ceremony. Lear and de Lavallade said they would boycott the event if Trump showed up.