The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2017 inductees, and it’s a little head scratching. Among the entrants are Pearl Jam, Journey, Yes, Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, and Nile Rodgers, but another artist is being inducted who doesn’t exactly conform to traditional rock and roll standards. Tupac Shakur was named to the list, and it causes one to wonder, what qualifies an artist as a contributor to rock and roll music?
Now to be clear, Tupac was an extraordinarily talented artist who did revolutionize music. That issue is not up for debate. The question is, how did his contributions relate to the rock and roll genre? A genre that Tupac wasn’t really involved in.
It seems that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is simply rebranding itself. While it began as literally a “rock and roll” reward for the legends of the genre, it has slowly evolved into a blanket “Music Hall of Fame”—rewarding those who have had even an indirect impact on rock music. Tupac would certainly fall within this latter category.
There’s no doubt that Shakur’s style has influenced artists of all genres to this day, but does he truly epitomize rock and roll? No.
But another issue is at play here. Because the Hall of Fame has to induct a new batch of musicians each year, they are simply running out of people! In order to stay afloat, the organization must induct a wider array of talent. This has evolved to include rockers AND influencers of rock. Tupac is surely an influencer.
This has already opened the door to criticism, not about Tupac, but to the organization at large for not inducting other hip hop artists first.
He paved the way for Tupac, Biggie et al.
Just not right.
— Todd Harrison (@todd_harrison) December 20, 2016
In a few years, we can expect the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be primarily made up of other genres. It would just be nice if the organization came out and said, “Look guys, we’re running out of people to induct. Since we have to do this every year, we’re going to branch out to include other genres.” That would be a much more honest answer than to merely profess how Tupac’s influence to the rock and roll genre is undeniable—especially when considering that rock and roll had long been dead by the time Tupac was on the scene.
Although the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, Ohio, the induction ceremony will take place in April 2017 in Brooklyn, New York.
Tupac represents the first 90’s-era performers to enter the Hall of Fame.