The fifth annual Urban One Honors have announced its “Icons of the Culture” honorees to be recognized for their “indelible mark in the categories of Entertainment Icon, Lifetime Achievement, Inspirational Impact, and Music Innovation,” over the years.
Two-time Grammy-winning MC and NAACP Image Award winner James Todd Smith a.k.a LL Cool J has been revealed as the recipient of the Entertainment Icon honor.
With another legend receiving the first-ever Phoenix Honor, the “Rock The Bells” MC will be highlighted along with Inspirational Impact honorees David Mann and his wife, Grammy award-winning gospel singer, Tamela Mann.
Since the early ’80s, LL Cool J has made his mark on Hip-Hop and continued to vouch for the foundations of the genre that he and so many others helped to build.
Last September, the 54-year-old had to check millennial podcaster DJ Akademiks for deeming veteran MCs as “dusty” and not “living good” financially.
In an Instagram video, LL passionately had to let the media personality know. “When Hip Hop first started, there were no managers, and there were no accountants that believed in it [Hip-Hop],” HE expressed. “Record companies didn’t even believe in it. Nobody believed in it. How can you make a 5-year plan or a 10-year plan on something that doesn’t even exist yet?”
The “Mama Said Knock You Out” artist added: “I’m all about getting paper. I’ve been talking about it my whole career. But don’t ever, ever, ever confuse being rich with making a contribution to our culture. Don’t ever play yourself like that again!”
The Queens, N.Y. native and G.O.A.T then proceeded to cite innovators of other genres, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, as examples of artists who are esteemed without mention of their financial assets.
The Urban One Honors aims to “herald the accomplishments of individuals” like LL “who have made extraordinary contributions in entertainment, media, music, education, and the community.” This year, R&B singer and actor Tank will host the main stage, as Grammy award-winning singer and actress LeToya Luckett delivers exclusive backstage interviews with the show’s honorees, performers, and presenters.
The ceremony will include performances from singer Keke Wyatt with an anticipated 50th anniversary of Hip Hop celebration featuring DJ Spinderella, Monie Love, and Doug E. Fresh. Rev. Run and Lamman Rucker of TV One’s Bad Dad Rehab: The Next Session are also slated to make an appearance.
Taped in Atlanta, the two-hour telecast will air on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—Monday, Jan. 16, 2023— on TV One and Cleo TV at 8 p.m. ET.