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LL Cool J has enjoyed a career that has spanned three decades and counting and is one of the few rappers turned actors who has sustained his visibility across the genres. Over the weekend, the rapper born James Todd Smith received a Kennedy Center Honor along with other notables, cementing his legacy for years to come.

LL was born January 14, 1968 in Bay Shore, New York. Since the mid-eighties, the fierce Queens rapper has shown and proved to be one of Hip-Hop’s most potent artists of his era. His talent and hard work culminated with two Grammy Awards and  his ongoing acting career. LL has also written four books including a fitness book, as expected given his chiseled frame.

The Grammy Awards were handed to LL in the ’90’s for Best Rap Performance for the tracks “Mama Said Knock You Out” in 1992 and “Hey Lover” in 1997. Other awards won by LL include the MTV Video Music Awards and the Soul Train Music Awards among other such honors. He has also released 13 studio albums with a new record reportedly on the way even as he eyes his 50th birthday in just over a month.

Joining LL Cool J in the honors ceremony in Washington, D.C. This past Saturday was television producer Norman Lear, dance legend Carmen de LaVallAde, Lionel Richie, and Gloria Estefan.

PHOTO: Larry Philpot of

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