5 Rap Acts Who Belong in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
GrownHeadz, ever ahead of the curve, created this very special Hot 5 months before Run-DMC’s induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Still, out of respect we decided to keep them on the list, as well as fellow honorees Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The rest of the rappers and groups named here haven’t gotten the invite yet, but they damn sure deserve one.
Run-DMC (inducted 2009)
No question, for these guys, the honor was long overdue. Run-DMC has true rock credentials. Three of their biggest hits were rock records: Rock Box, King of Rock, and Walk this Way. In fact, their second album King of Rock featured rock songs almost exclusively. Besides, Run-DMC, more than any other group, was responsible for hip-hop’s dominance of music in the 21st century. But we already discussed this before.
Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five (inducted 2007)
Initially, I was one of many who questioned Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t get me wrong, they were innovative, considered at one time the best in the field, and they made history when The Message went platinum in 1982. All that’s good enough for the Hip Hop Hall of Fame; I just didn’t think it was far-reaching enough for the Rock Hall. But the Hall of Fame has been good at picking artists who are the foundations upon which the city is built. Some early inductees into the Rock Hall like Louie Jordan, Smokey Robinson, and James Brown are not considered “rock” acts, but provided a basis for many rock acts who followed. In that case, of all the early innovators of hip-hop, GMF & FF definitely fit the bill. Plus, when they released The Message it put EVERYBODY (including other rappers) on notice that hip-hop was more than just party music.
The Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys do not get a free pass into the Rock Hall of Fame because they are white. They get in because they truly blazed a trail in hip-hop. They have gone from frat boy anthems (Fight For Your to Party) to headlining concerts that highlight China’s human rights abuses in Tibet. Along with rock-oriented rap hits, Beasties went all the way back to their punk rock roots and busted out live instrumentation on a few of their albums, like Check Your Head and Ill Communication. And, lest we forget, Sabotage is basically them singing (bless their hearts).
Why PE? The better question is Why Not? Their first, second and third albums pioneered the “Wall of Sound” technique, and featured straight-up rock songs like Sophisticated Bitch and Channel Zero. With all the screeches, sirens and dozens of samples per song, a PE album demanded to be played at 11. Add in Chuck’s BOOMING flow and you have rap that is most transferable to rock. Bring The Noise lost not an ounce of credibility or funk as a rock remake. Furthermore, PE travels with a full band to supplement their sound on the road. One journalist jokingly wrote that Public Enemy was trying to be the Rolling Stones of hip-hop. Well, with both Chuck and Flav pushing 50, still putting out records and selling out shows, they just might do it.
Sex, Dugs and Rock n Roll. In terms of pure rock attitude, NWA was as hard as it got. When your favorite band scares your parents shitless, is under FBI surveillance and continues performing despite obscenity fines, you know they just don’t give a fuck—and you love them for it. Second only to PE in rebelling against authority, they were the Rolling Stones (bad boys sexing everything in sight) to PE’s Beatles (clean-cut good guys). And if you look at the line up, it’s pretty extraordinary. They had Dr. Dre long before he was hailed as one of the best producers of all time, Ice Cube, one of the top lyricists ever (though MC Ren was no slouch), and Eazy E, one of the first artist/label owners in hip-hop, whose label signed some classic artists (DOC, Bone Thugs n Harmony). If NWA were inducted, it would acknowledge one of music’s greatest beatmakers, rappers, and entrepreneurs all in one swoop.