The Kennedy Center honored a rapper, LL Cool J, for the first time in 40 years earlier this month at its annual ceremony in Washington D.C. To commemorate the occasion, Busta Rhymes and his longtime hype man Spliff Star performed the Queens artist’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” MC Lyte performed “I’m Bad,” Black Thought performed “It Gets No Rougher,” and D.M.C. performed “Rock the Bells.”
The gala took place on Dec. 3 and was the first Kennedy Center Honors to be skipped by the sitting president. Donald Trump pulled out of the ceremony in August after television producer Norman Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade, two of the other honorees, pledged to skip the customary White House reception in protest of Trump’s policies. At the time, LL Cool J told The New York Times that he refused to let the president undermine the moment. “I’m not going to block my blessings or let the political divide stop me from embracing my art,” he said. “I’m banking on the goodness and the optimism of people to say: ‘You know what? I get it. Let this guy have this honor.’”
Singers Gloria Estefan and Lionel Richie were also honored. Becky G, Estefan’s daughter Emily, and cast of the Estefan-penned Broadway play On Your Feet performed a collection of Estefan’s hits; Stevie Wonder, Luke Bryan, and Leona Lewis paid tribute to Ritchie’s catalogue. Watch below.