Busta Rhymes, Black Thought & MC Lyte Give A Knockout Tribute To LL Cool J (Video)

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Earlier this month, LL Cool J became the first Hip-Hop artist to be celebrated as a Kennedy Center Honoree. Last night (December 27), the full ceremony aired on CBS, and LL’s tribute was one fit for a GOAT.

While it is customary to have a celebrity introduce honorees at these types of events, along with a celebratory video package, nothing about LL’s career has been ordinary, and hence neither was his induction. LL had not one, but two people introduce him. Queen Latifah kicked things off with some words about the first time she encountered James Todd Smith in person—as a fan looking on in a chance encounter on the street—and then she set off not one but two video vignettes about the celebrant. The first honored the music of Hip-Hop’s first solo superstar, and the second spoke to his accomplishments as an actor and a person.

Next, Questlove took the stage and spoke from the heart about LL’s show-stopping introduction to the world, by way of his cameo in the movie Krush Groove, before turning things over to the performers chosen to pay tribute to Uncle L by way of his music.

Busta Rhymes opened the high energy set with a rousing rendition of LL’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Decked out in a track suit, gold chain and LL’s trademark red Kangol hat, Busta growled and caged the stage like the panther to which LL likened himself, on the title of his third album. MC Lyte followed Busta with her own take on “I’m Bad.” Next up was Questlove’s Legendary Roots Crew partner, Black Thought, who delivered a typically effortless performance of “It Gets No Rougher.” And, last but not least, D.M.C., closed things out with LL’s classic, “Rock The Bells.”

LL seemed to thoroughly enjoy the tribute, as he smiled and rapped along throughout the entire performance. Though the Kennedy Center Honors is typically one of the more staid awards celebrations, people throughout the audience could be seen rocking along with him, seemingly barely able to stay in their seats.