Tupac nominated for Rock Hall of Fame; expect even more rap artists in the future

Tupac Shakur. Photo / Getty
Tupac Shakur. Photo / Getty

In his first year of eligibility, Tupac Shakur appears on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot, which was released Tuesday. And if the slain rapper gets inducted in 2017, he will be the first solo hip-hop artist to join the institution.

The rock hall foundation's nominating committee, which selects the names for the ballot, has shown it considers rap artists as worthy of consideration.

Rapper Tupac Shakur performs onstage at the Palladium on July 23, 1993 in New York, New York. Photo / Getty
Rapper Tupac Shakur performs onstage at the Palladium on July 23, 1993 in New York, New York. Photo / Getty

Five other rap acts are already in the hall of fame: N.W.A (inducted 2016); Public Enemy (2013); Beastie Boys (2012); Run DMC (2009), Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007).

This trend is only likely to continue.

Rap is still relatively quite young and more titans of the form -- those who broke new ground and took it mainstream -- are just now becoming eligible for induction.

Nominees have to have released their first album or single at least 25 years before they can end up on the rock hall ballot. And sometimes it takes getting nominated multiple times before a performer is inducted.

(L-R) Rappers MC Ren, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre of the rap group NWA pose for a portrait in 1991 in New York, New York. Photo / Getty
(L-R) Rappers MC Ren, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre of the rap group NWA pose for a portrait in 1991 in New York, New York. Photo / Getty

The inclusion of hip-hop artists hasn't been without debate. N.W.A's induction this year was marked by a back-and-forth with Gene Simmons, who told Rolling Stone he was "looking forward to the death of rap."

Members of the rap group responded to those comments during their induction speech. Ren addressed Simmons by name, saying "hip-hop is here for ever. Get used to it." And Ice Cube's speech, in which he defined rock n' roll, is now featured prominently on the rock hall's website, in a section explaining the induction process.

Gene Simmons of KISS performs live on stage as part of their Monster Tour with Motley Crue and Thin Lizzy at Perth Arena on February 28, 2013 in Perth, Australia. Photo / Getty
Gene Simmons of KISS performs live on stage as part of their Monster Tour with Motley Crue and Thin Lizzy at Perth Arena on February 28, 2013 in Perth, Australia. Photo / Getty

Simmons responded to the criticism. "([) respect N.W.A, but when Led Zep gets into Rap Hall of Fame, I will agree with your point."

"Who stole the soul?" Ice Cube responded. "Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Chubby Checker help invent rock & roll. We invent it. Y'all reprint it."

This debate rages on as rock purists also argue that more traditional bands haven't yet made it into the hall, or are repeatedly snubbed.

Ice Cube attends a special screening of Straight Outta Compton on August 20, 2015 at the Picturehouse Central in London, England. Photo / Getty
Ice Cube attends a special screening of Straight Outta Compton on August 20, 2015 at the Picturehouse Central in London, England. Photo / Getty

Chic has appeared on the ballot 11 times, including this year. This marks the third year for Yes. And Duran Duran has yet to appear on the ballot at all, to the dismay of super fans.

According to the rock hall institution, "factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique are taken into consideration." As the years go on, the potential crop of rap artists for the hall will expand, from the era in which rap was considered by the mainstream as a passing fad to the era in which it dominated the charts and pop culture as a whole.

If selected, Tupac would be the first artist of the 1990s era of rap to make it in. By 2019, Notorious B.I.G. (who released Ready to Die in 1994), will be eligible for consideration.

Rapper Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, aka Chris Wallace rolls a cigar outside his mother's house in Brooklyn. Photo / Getty
Rapper Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, aka Chris Wallace rolls a cigar outside his mother's house in Brooklyn. Photo / Getty

This year, more than 800 artists, historians and people in music industry -- including all living inductees -- around will get world ballots. The public can also weigh in on the institution's website.

Inductees will be announced in December, with the actual ceremony taking place in April 2017 and broadcast by HBO.

Here's a full list of nominees on this year's ballot. An asterisk appears on first-time nominees.

•Bad Brains*
•Chaka Khan
•Chic
•Depeche Mode*
•Electric Light Orchestra*
•J. Geils Band
•Jane's Addiction*
•Janet Jackson
•Joan Baez*
•Joe Tex
•Journey*
•Kraftwerk
•MC5
•Pearl Jam*
•Steppenwolf*
•The Cars
•The Zombies
•Tupac Shakur*
•Yes

- Washington Post

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