The man who helped present the award was another trailblazer, the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.
Obama gave his speech in a prerecorded video, and Jay Z tweeted about it later.
(E! reported the rapper was not able to attend the awards gala in New York City.)
In the video, Obama called Jay “a true American original.”
“I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other,” Obama said. “Nobody who met us when we were younger men would have expected us to be where we are today.”
The former president continued highlighting some of the personal difficulties both men faced and, in their own ways, overcame.
“We know what it’s like not to have a father around,” he said. “We know what it’s like not to come from much, and to know people who didn’t get the same breaks that we did. So we try to prop open the door of opportunity so that it’s a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well.”
Obama lit the internet up when he said, “Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s going to have me beat once those two twins show up,” referring to twins Jay Z and his wife Beyoncé have on the way (or have already had, if you believe the Internet rumors).