Who should be in the hip-hop hall of fame?
Jay Z’s nomination into the song writer’s hall of fame has sparked a conversation, and from that conversation some interesting points are being made. Hip-hop is still a very young genre but there have been other mega successful artists with very impressive resumes that have not received similar acknowledgments. The fact that we don’t have our own hall of fame that carries the same prestige as these other institutions probably says more about us than it does about the overseers currently making decisions, but that being said, as great as he is the list of legendary emcees does not start or end with Jay. Now I am not mad at them for selecting who they select, nor do I want to disparage those that receive accolades from these groups. The rock and roll hall of fame for instance has inducted 5 rap acts: NWA, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. These are all legends, no doubt, but there have been many more that have had a major impact on pop culture that should be considered. Let’s start with the obvious ones.
Tupac Shakur. To be fair the rock and roll hall of fame did nominate Pac in his first year of eligibility which would be 2017. An artist is eligible 25 years after they released their first album. The song writers’ hall of fame has a waiting period as well which is 20 years. Yes Pac’s career was only about 5 years, but in those 5 years his recordings have managed to sell over 75,000,000 albums worldwide with over 29,000,000 coming in the United States. Now I totally understand that record sales aren’t everything, hell, the BackStreet boys sold a lot of records too but sales have to count for something in this discussion. Tupac’s legacy is undeniable and his influence can be felt all across America and the world. Any music hall of fame that does not have him in it is a bogus one
There have been over 130 rap acts to go platinum but only one person can say they did it first. Being the greatest at writing love songs is not a bad thing, and having longevity in a genre that cannibalizes its stars at 29 is a masterful feat. That is why it is shocking to see LL Cool J not being shown the same respect that a Jay Z or Eminem gets. His pen skills are unquestionable, and yes maybe they have faded some over the years as his outside endeavors have picked up, but no one can take away from the fact that he has had platinum and gold records in three straight decades beginning in the early 80s. And I cannot stress enough that he has done this in an industry that does not celebrate birthdays. Even Chuck D recently wrote on twitter about LL saying, “Got forever love for PAC BUT there AINT a solo rap act that should get in the RRHOF before @llcoolj I Dont care about what naysayers think,” he tweeted. “When @llcoolj entered the rap game there was NOTHING close to the blizzard he came in the game with.1 dude rearranged records & performance.” In my opinion LL should have been in there 7 years ago when he was first eligible, there should not be a Pac vs LL debate because there is plenty of room for both.
Lauryn Hill is responsible for arguably one of the greatest hip hop albums off all time and was a member of arguably one of the greatest rap groups of all time. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of “The Score” by the Fugees, where she shined, creating an imprint in music that will never be erased. In 1999 she beat out Madonna, Shania Twain, and Sheryl Crow for a Grammy with her album “Miseducation of Lauren Hill” which went on the sell 8 million copies in the US. Her influence can be felt to this day in music through other artists such as Adele, Beyonce, Kanye West and John Legend. Detractors will say that she only had one solo album, 2 if you counted the group but I’d argue the impact and substance of her music should be enough to get her in.
I wouldn’t dare write an article about rappers that should be in hall of fame for writers and not include who some say is the greatest of all time. The Notorious B.I.G. left us way too soon and had so much more to offer but what he did leave was historic. 20 something years ago naysayers could argue that rap music was a cute fad that would soon fizzle out, but the record sales and sold out concert venues say something entirely different. Biggie managed to sell over 17 million with only 2 albums before he was gunned down. Biggie’s influence can be felt all throughout hip hop not only through his style and quoted lyrics, but even with his voice having been sampled on many hit records. He won’t be eligible until 2019 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In part 2 I will examine the careers of some other legends that should be in the hall of fame including Nas, Lil Kim, Scarface and Too Short.