(CBS NEWS) -- LL Cool J is the first rapper ever to be chosen for the Kennedy Center Honors. The two-time Grammy winner, actor and entrepreneur says his place in this year's ceremony is proof that dreams don't have deadlines.
He was one of rap's first solo stars. When a kid from Queens named James Todd Smith found his alter ego, LL Cool J, he found his ticket out.
"What did you hear in hip-hop and rap?" CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason asked.
"See, when you grow up in the inner city, you feel like nobody cares about you. You feel like – you feel invisible," LL Cool J said. "So the first time I heard these young, black men rapping on these records saying these rhymes –"
"They sounded powerful?" Mason asked.
"They sounded powerful, man. And in them sounding powerful, it made me feel powerful," LL Cool J said.