Tupac Will Enter The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Gene Simmons Can Kiss Off.
In just five years of releasing albums, Tupac Shakur transformed Hip-Hop music and culture. The New York-born lyricist made songs about love, family, decadence, teenage pregnancy, police brutality, and humiliating his enemies, among a litany of other topics. The music of Shakur’s is as complex as the man, and often filled with contradictions, radical shifts, and defined periods. It has been announced that the MC, who was killed in September of 1996, will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2017. Taking place just miles from Shakur’s birthplace, the ceremony be held April 7 at Brooklyn, New York’s Barclays Center.
Other 2017 inductees include Journey, Pearl Jam, Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, and Prog Rock band Yes. In October, the coming year’s nominations were announced. Now confirmed to be included in the distinguished Hall, Tupac has stepped ahead of nominations such as Depeche Mode, Janet Jackson, MC5, Kraftwerk, and Bad Brains, among others. Like Pearl Jam, Shakur is inducted in his first year of eligibility.
Although Shakur’s music catalog held closely to Rap and Hip-Hop, in his career, he worked with other R&R Hall inductees such as George Clinton, Madonna, and Ice Cube (who entered the H.O.F. alongside N.W.A. earlier this year). During his life, Tupac released two #1 albums (achieving three more following his death). In 1995, upon signing a contract to Suge Knight and Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records, ‘Pac scored his first #1 singles—“California Love” (a Dre collaboration) and “How Do U Want It?” with Jodeci’s K-Ci & JoJo. Both songs were included on subsequent diamond-certified double album, All Eyez On Me.
In addition to N.W.A., Shakur joins Hip-Hop artists including Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy. These inclusions have been controversial to some, including KISS band front man Gene Simmons. In 2014, when KISS was inducted, Simmons criticized the merits of Hip-Hop, as it pertains to the Cleveland, Ohio Hall of Fame. “A few people decide what’s [is inducted] and what’s not. And the masses just scratch their heads,” Simmons told Radio. “You’ve got Grandmaster Flash in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Run-D.M.C. in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? You’re killing me! That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk. [They do not] even sing!”
Throughout the following two years, Ice Cube spoke out against Simmons’ remarks. The N.W.A. co-founder tweeted to the KISS vocalist in 2016, “Who stole the soul? Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Chubby Checkers help invent Rock ‘n’ Roll. We invent it. Y’all reprint it.” In his 2016 acceptance speech, Cube used the platform to challenge notions: “Now, the question is, are we Rock & Roll? And I say you’re god damn right we Rock & Roll. Rock & Roll is not an instrument, Rock & Roll is not even a style of music. Rock & Roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit. It’s been going since the Blues, Jazz, Be-Bop, Soul, R&B, Rock & Roll, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock and yes, Hip-Hop. And what connects us all is that spirit. That’s what connects us all, that spirit. Rock & Roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life. That is Rock & Roll, and that is us. So Rock & Roll is not conforming. Rock & Roll is outside the box. And Rock & Roll is N.W.A. I want to thank everybody who helped induct us into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and I just want to tell the world, ‘Damn, that shit was dope.‘”
Seeking the last word on April 11 of this year, Gene Simmons used Twitter to show his appreciation for N.W.A., but inquired when Led Zeppelin will enter to “Rap Hall of Fame.” At present, no such place exists. Simmons has not yet spoken publicly about Shakur’s Hall confirmation. In 1996, Tupac and KISS appeared together at the 38th Grammy Awards.
It is unclear who will attend the ceremony on behalf of the iconic MC. Earlier this year, Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur (who managed his estate) died of a heart attack at age 69. The music estate of Shakur is now said to be in the hands of Tom Whalley, the former Interscope Records executive who signed ‘Pac at the top of the 1990s. Whalley has a close relationship to Rock & Roll. The former Warner Bros. Records CEO has been deeply instrumental in the careers of Hall of Fame inductees Neil Young, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Metallica. Shakur’s group at the end of his life, Tha Outlawz is now reduced to E.D.I. and Young Noble as active members.
In 2017, Tupac’s authorized biopic All Eyez On Me is planned to reach theaters.