Rapper and producer Ms Dynamite said she will be "forever humbled" after being honoured with a Mobo award for her contribution to music as a female MC.
The mother-of-one, whose real name is Niomi Arleen McLean-Daley, returned to her former London college on Monday to unveil a new paving stone laid in her honour.
It marked her Mobo (Music of Black Origin) Paving The Way award, which she will officially accept at a televised ceremony on Friday.
Speaking at the WAC Arts College in Belsize Park, the rapper, 35, told the Press Association: "I was taken aback and choked up for a couple of days after they called me. I'll be forever humbled."
Commenting on meeting current pupils, as well as her own former tutors, she said: "It has been really overwhelming, but really beautiful. They asked me how I began and how I felt in the early days."
Ms D first started at the centre aged seven before returning around the time she left home at the age of 15.
She said: "It was a difficult time for me but WAC had a real support network and was there for me. It was a safe haven."
She recorded two albums - A Little Deeper (2002) and Judgement Days (2005) - in what she described as a "male-dominated industry" during her twenties.
"I was very aware that it was male-dominated - there were women in the audience at my gigs but none on my side of the fence," she said.
"The fact that I was already the underdog inspired me. People assumed I would be rubbish when I got on stage and all eyes were on me, but it meant I had to deliver.
"It was a beautiful experience because I could roll with the guys and they respected me massively."
Although she took a conscious step back from her music career to raise her son, Shavaar, 13, the artist revealed she is far from retirement and is in the process of creating a new album.
Ms D added: "I'm currently back in the studio entering a new phase as a grown woman and a mother.
"I don't think I could express myself without expressing motherhood."
She said the album is "100%" happening but has no fixed plans for a release date.
Summarising her decision to move away from the public eye in recent years, she said: "Life is about priorities and fame has never been a priority for me whatsoever.
"I decided to be a mum, so I stopped the music and then eventually came to a point where I felt I could do both. Being a parent means the world to me."
Well-known for her social media presence promoting optimistic messages, she said her latest music will not be making any serious social or political statements.
She added: "There are countless issues for young people at the moment without a doubt and, as a teenager, I was angry and wanted to shine a light on all the problems.
"The woman and mother I have turned into prefers to work on resolutions and solutions."
The 2016 Mobo Awards will be held in Glasgow on Friday and will be broadcast live on ITV2 at 8pm, with a repeat on ITV at 10.40pm.
Olympic gold medallist boxer Nicola Adams MBE will also receive a Paving The Way award and will next week lay her paving stone in the city centre of her home town Leeds.