LL Cool J will be the first hip-hop artist to receive a Kennedy Centre honour later this year.
He will be awarded alongside musician Lionel Richie, singer Gloria Estefan, TV writer Normal Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.
The awards annually celebrate arts figures for their contributions to American culture.
LL Cool J tweeted: “To be the first rap artist honoured by the @kencen is beyond anything I could have imagined.”
He added: “Dreams don’t have deadlines. God is great.”
At 49, he ties with Stevie Wonder as the youngest artist to receive the honour.
Set to take place on 3 December in the Kennedy Centre Opera House, this will be the first ceremony to take place under President Trump.
As is the tradition, the President and First Lady will have dinner with the honourees and a White House reception followed by a range of performances in the Kennedy Center Opera House.
LL Cool J, less commonly known as James Todd Smith, told The Washington Post: “I am blown away. This is the biggest musical award you can receive.
“To be recognised by your country, and to be able to represent hip-hop as an art form is amazing. I’m surprised, grateful, humbled and honoured.”
Lear, who created 1970s sitcoms including All in the Family, told the New York Times he would not be attending the ceremony: “This is a presidency that has chosen to neglect totally the arts and humanities – deliberately defund them – and that doesn’t rest pleasantly with me.”