Born James Todd Smith, the rapper-turned-actor will be inducted into the 2017 class along with pop stars Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan, television writer-producer Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade on Dec. 3 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C.
Honorees will be saluted by performers and will be seated alongside President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, NPR reported.
At 49, LL Cool J will be the Kennedy Center's youngest honoree since Stevie Wonder. The rapper received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year. He has released 13 albums over a 30-year career. He credited his grandmother for his success and dedicated his award to hip-hop pioneers and to those who followed them.
"My late grandmother passed some wise advice to me: 'If a task is once begun, never leave it 'til it's done,” he said in a statement. “Be thy labor great or small, do it well or not at all.' That adage has guided everything I have ever done in my life and I couldn't be more grateful because it has led me here.
"To be the first rap artist honored by the Kennedy Center is beyond anything I could have imagined. This simply proves that dreams don't have deadlines. God is great."