The selection committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017 again invited controversy by inducting the late Lesane Parish Crooks aka Tupac Shakur into the list, alongside Pearl Jam, Journey, The Cars, Depeche Mode, and Bad Brains. So what is a West Coast rapper doing in this list, which Kiss vocalist Gene Simmons argued in a 2014 interview shouldn’t be extended to those who “don’t play guitar” or not “even sing”? To be clear, Simmons was taking a shot at rappers. In fact, he said the only time he would support hip hop artists is when Led Zeppelin will be inducted into the Rap Hall of Fame (there’s no such thing, of course, but you get the picture).
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2017: Making A Case For Tupac
When you hear Tupac, the first thing that comes to mind is Notorious BIG and the whole East Coast and West Coast rivalry. For all the controversy about the life he lived, Tupac was an amazing lyricist. Stripped of all the trappings of money, fame, guns, aggression, and gang-related lifestyle, gangsta rap at its core is the language of the streets–a microcosm of reality, which people tend to overlook because it offends their sensibilities.
1. Hip Hop Influences Rock and Roll, and vice versa
With music, there really is no black and white. You can argue all you want about the differences between hip hop and rock and roll, but they can trace their origins to the Blues. Now, there’s actually a music genre called Rap Rock, which has its own sub-genres like rapcore or rap metal. There’s also Nu Metal, which injects hip hop into rock music. Among the bands in this genre are Rage Against the Machine, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park.
2. Tupac Induction Not A Breakthrough
Remember these guys? Yeah, they also made it to the Hall. That means Tupac being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2017 is not exactly breaking grounds as he wasn’t the first hip hop artist named into the exclusive list. Ice Cube even called out Gene Simmons for the latter’s myopic view of what rock and roll is.
During his induction speech in April this year, Ice Cube addresses the elephant in the room: “Now, the question is, are we rock & roll? And I say you goddamn right we rock & roll. Rock & roll is not an instrument, rock & roll is not even a style of music. Rock & roll is a spirit.”
But then again, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy paved the way for N.W.A. and Tupac.
3 Tupac Promotes Culture of Violence
One of the arguments against inducting Tupac into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017 is that he was a representative of the bad in hip hop culture. Because of all the reports of violence, drug addiction, and gangsterism, he’s not deserving of the recognition. But really, I am talking about rockers here and they’re not exactly the paragon of morality.
4. Historical Significance of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017
The picture above is Trayvon Martin, whose death becomes the impetus for the movement, Black Lives Matter. Why is this important to Tupac being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017? Because it was his message all along: the alienation of blacks, the degrading conditions of the inner cities made worse by gentrification, that black lives matter. How apropriate would it be for the late rapper to be named in next year’s Hall?
Here’s a short video from Watch Mojo on the Top 10 songs of Tupac:
By all means, Tupac’s name on the ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017 shouldn’t be a controversy at all, considering the selection committee already broke down the walls when it inducted Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 2007. I think people going after Tupac while conveniently forgetting all the rap acts before him seem downright petty at this point.
Do you think Tupac deserves to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2017? Is Gene Simmons correct when he draws the line on rappers being included in the Hall? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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