As of last week, it's official. Tupac Shakur will be the next entrant into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Part of a class with Pearl Jam, Journey, Joan Baez, Yes and ELO, 2017 marked the rapper's first year of eligibility as it's been 25 years since his first release, 1991's 2Pacalypse Now. Given rap's relative youth, Pac will only be the sixth hip-hop artist to enter Rock and Roll's hallowed Hall, following Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (who became the Hall’s first hip-hop entries in 2007), Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and last year's induction of N.W.A.
But who else deserves to go in? There's been some majorly impactful hip-hop artists in rock history, and with more becoming eligible each year, it's important a few become recognized. Here's our picks for who should join Pac in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Grand Wizard Theodore
How many people still walking the face of the planet can honestly say they created an instrument that's somewhere being played by somebody somewhere in the world at any given time? Grand Wizard Theodore is the DJ who invented the record scratch as a musical instrument. What began as an avant garde attempt to rock the party to the break-a break-a dawn has since evolved into a full-fledged curriculum with academies and competitions the world over, not to mention its presence in a substantial chunk of all rap music ever created. Hip-hop would sound DRAMATICALLY different without Grand Wizard Theodore.
LL Cool J
What good would having hip-hop in the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame be without rap's first rock star? LL Cool J carried himself from a young age on record as an absolute dynamo on the mic. With a tremendous longevity matched by few, if any, contemporaries from his era, Cool J's live shws even post-CSI action work, continue to make Mama happy by knocking us out every time. He's hard as hell as ever, and any doubters should revisit his iconic MTV Unplugged performance to see how he really rocks.
Kool Moe Dee
35 years ago, Kool Moe Dee changed the course of rap forever in one night's work. his battle with Busy Bee took MCing beyond the "What's your zodiac sign / up-jump-the-boogie" era of party rocking forever with a direct rapid-fire machine gun attack. But it's not just that one evening that puts Moe Dee on that pedestal. He's also one of the first MCs to really understand the industry and pay that information forward to his peers. The first rapper to really have a second act in his career, he took the lessons learned from the industry during the early 80s with the Trecherous Three and brought them to his solo career five years later. That's impact!
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame offers an Ahmet Ertegun Award for "songwriters, producers, disc jockeys, record executives, journalists and other industry professionals who have had a major influence on the development of rock and roll." If one hip-hop producer deserves this honor, it's Prince Paul. Widely credited with inventing the rap album "skit," which has been attempted and echoed across genres worldwide, Paul's additionally spent three decade cultivated some of hip-hop's most important innovations and sounds.
While his work as songwriter Clarence Reid (Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman," Gwen McCrae's "Rocking Chair") and his soul music ("Masterpiece," "Nobody But You Babe") should be enough to get him properly recognized and inducted, Reid's work as Blowfly was unbelievably important to hip-hop. With party records considered to be among rap's most important influences (and "Rapp Dirty" being rap's first recorded, but technically not first released, single) the genre/culture as we know it today wouldn't exist without Blowfly. While he was unfairly snubbed at The Grammys' in memoriam this year, we hope the Hall of Fame does the right thing to right the wrong.