LL Cool J
via Christina Murillo / CC-BY-2.0

Rap legend LL Cool J became the first hip-hop artist ever to win a Kennedy Center Honors award over the weekend, joining Lionel Richie, Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan, and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.

The awards, which took place at Sunday (Dec. 3) night’s 40th edition of the ceremony, honor those in the performing arts for their life time achievements to American culture.

LL Cool J’s debut album, 1985’s Radio, was largely responsible for launching hip-hop into the mainstream, selling over 500,000 copies withing its first five months of its release. Since then, LL Cool J has enjoyed various accolades and awards, including two Grammys, two MTV Video Music Awards, seven platinum album releases and a BET Hip-Hop Award for his contributions to the genre.

“I believe that we are built to do anything we put our minds and proper actions to,” LL Cool J stated on Instagram regarding the award.  “You have all the tools inside you that are required for you to fulfill your GOD given purpose.”

The Kennedy Center Honors will be aired on CBS on Dec. 26.