Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducts Public Enemy Tonight – Has Hip Hop Earned its Place in the Hall [POLL]
The term “rock and roll” has taken on so many meanings since its inception back in the 50s.
From a term that used to denote having sex, first used publically by deejay Alan Freed, Rock and Roll embraced a number of musical styles that all formed the hybrid we’ve all grown up with.
It was only in the late 60s and 70s when rock and roll shortened itself to “rock” and became the province of mainly all white metal and hair groups.
Hip Hop as we know it traces its roots back to the primal shouts of James Brown, but the more modern version of the genre had its genesis right here in New Jersey with the Englewood group the Sugarhill Gang.
When the surviving members of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five assembled in the grand ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and triumphantly accepted the honor of becoming the first hip-hop group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was the ultimate endorsement of this unlikely and often maligned genre’s rugged march towards parity, respectability and acceptance.
It might have taken nearly 35 years for the hip-hop’s standard to navigate the nine or so miles from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx — the movement’s ancestral home and headquarters of DJ Kool Herc and his famed Herculoids sound system — to midtown Manhattan, but on that night in 2007, when it finally took its place alongside the others, the circle of rock and roll edged that much closer to completion.
Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way. And in some circles, even after the 2009 induction of Run-D.M.C — the group credited with establishing the rap/rock hybrid as a genre of its own — questions regarding hip-hop’s overall merit and legitimacy still persisted.
Fast forward to today.
With tonight’s induction of Public Enemy into the Hall, that question still persists.
Public Enemy is ready for the grousing that will likely come with their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Thursday night.
"Thursday, there's gonna be a whole lot of cats with guitars saying, 'There goes the neighborhood,' " Public Enemy's Chuck D said early Wednesday at The Grammy Museum, part of a three-day celebration of their career, culminating with Thursday's induction. "Well, Roosevelt (Long Island) was the test town when it came to 'white flight' migration . . . We come from a town where they definitely said, 'There goes the neighborhood.' They're saying the same thing about this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction."
Of course, not everyone feels that way. Public Enemy was chosen on the votes of a group of music historians, industry execs and journalists -- in the group's first year of eligibility. At the "What Is Rock and Roll?" panel discussion Wednesday at the Gibson Beverly Hills Showroom, the legendary producer Jack Douglas, best known for his work with John Lennon, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, said he voted for Public Enemy's induction. "It's only been a short period where rock was taken over by white kids," said Douglas. "Rock and roll is Motown. Rock and roll is Public Enemy."
Public Enemy will be inducted by Harry Belafonte and Spike Lee at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, alongside Heart, Albert King, Randy Newman, Rush, and Donna Summer. An edited version of the ceremony will air on HBO on May 18.
If Rock and Roll defines the music of a generation, engendering both a theme of rebellion and celebrating youth, which developed from a hybrid of the many different styles of both white and black artists; then it would be hypocritical to deny Hip Hops place in the Hall.
Agree or not!