If you listen closely, you can hear the rustling of crisp packets as the protectors of rock and roll’s apparent sanctity bristle at the idea of yet another rapper entering the hallowed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2022 will see Eminem inducted into this year’s class, and despite the aforementioned, and purely senseless, disdain for such a crossover of genres, he isn’t the first rapper to land in the famous musical museum.
Eminem leads this year’s inductions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as he, alongside artists such as Lionel Richie and Dolly Parton, take their place among a pantheon of pop culture’s most significant musical icons.
Also on the list of entries for this year’s class are Carly Simon, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, and Pat Benatar, who have all been voted into the hall in the performance category. Judas Priest and, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis will be inducted via the Award for Musical Excellence category while Harry Belafonte and Elizabeth Cotten will be honoured with the Early Influence Award.
The Detroit rapper becomes a part of a small contingent of the famous rock-driven awards ceremony as being one of the few representatives of the rap and hip hop world in the hall. Over recent years, however, the establishment has inducted many great names into the hall of fame, including Run DMC, N.W.A., Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and pioneers, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
The latter act, with all the pioneering work they did, became the first inclusion in 2007, quickly followed by ‘Walk This Way’ heroes Run-DMC. Next up were the heavily rock-influenced rap group Beastie Boys in 2012 before Public Enemy followed up the following year.
West coast icons N.W.A. would be inducted in 2016 with Tupac Shakur an entry in 2017. Then followed a flurry of rap acts inducted into the esteemed establishment. Biggie Smalls was inducted in 2020, with Jay-Z and LL Cool J making a double hip hop entry in 2021. Now, Eminem’s time has come, despite the ridicule.
Boss of Rock Hall, Greg Harris, commented on the rapper’s inclusion in the class of 2022 and the position of hip-hop in Rock Hall. “For a lot of years, people asked about hip-hop,” he said. “He’s the 10th artist to be sort of categorised that way.”
He continued: “But you listen to his music; it’s as hard-hitting and straight ahead as any metal song. It’s right there. It’s a chest punch with a message and with a power and with a rhythm and with a band. We’re thrilled he’s going in [his] first year of eligibility, it’s a big statement.”
When LL Cool J was inducted into the museum last year, he opined: “The last thing I’ll say is, rock and roll, hip hop loves you. We borrow your beats. We sample ’em. We turn them into hits. And we know where we came from. We know where things come from….we love and appreciate you,” before performing ‘Rock the Bells’ with 2022 inductee Eminem.
The brass tacks of the issue come down to semantics. If you take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in an evangelical sense, refusing to bend or reshape for semantics, then rappers likely shouldn’t be included. Of course, that would also leave punks, soul musicians, pop stars and everybody in between also bereft of their place. In fact, the Rock Hall mantle would be largely comprised of artists from the 1950s, with Elvis Presley presiding over them all.
Instead, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should likely be rebranded as simply ‘Music’s Hall of Fame’ or, perhaps the little more clunky’ The Spirit of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’. Every artist so far included in the museum would fit both of these descriptions, the spirit and ethos of rock and roll’s most-trusted philosophies can be found in every single member of Rock Hall. Rapper or otherwise.
Every rapper included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
- Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007)
- Run-DMC (2009)
- Beastie Boys (2012)
- Public Enemy (2013)
- N.W.A. (2016)
- Tupac Shakur (2017)
- Biggie Smalls (2020)
- LL Cool J (2021)
- Jay-Z (2021)
- Eminem (2022)