Should one of the greatest rappers of all time be included in pop music’s official pantheon of greats?
That’s the question some are asking after the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2017 were unveiled Tuesday, with Tupac Shakur headlining the list of 19 possible inductees.
Tupac, who has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, is commonly regarded as one of the best rappers ever and considered hugely influential in the genre. He was killed in 1996 in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.
Election to the Hall of Fame is dependent upon more than 600 ballots cast by music industry veterans, historians and living members, with the top five nominees being inducted. All nominees must be at least 25 years removed from the release of their first record. Tupac’s first album, “2Pacalypse Now” was released in 1991, making this his first year of eligibility.
Should Tupac be inducted, he would be the first solo rapper to be so honored. The Hall of Fame has inducted just five rap groups in its history: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and N.W.A.
And if one goes by the controversy that accompanied some of those inductions, then Tupac’s candidacy should ignite fierce debate. Gene Simmons, frontman for Hall of Fame band Kiss, has been particularly vocal in his criticism of including rap artists in the Hall, saying it was akin to Led Zeppelin being inducted into the (fictional) Rap Hall of Fame.
But he is hardly alone in his feeling that the genre should not be included in the Hall, and those people sounded off on social media after Tupac’s nomination was announced.
However, for every discontent rock fan, there are as many music fans and critics who feel Tupac deserves a spot in the Hall.
And despite some fans disapproval, Tupac is likely to be the first of a wave of rappers to be nominated, as the Washington Post points out. Notorious B.I.G., Tupac’s rival, will be eligible in 2019, as will Outkast. Dr. Dre is already eligible as a solo act, and Jay Z and Eminem will follow in 2021 and 2022, respectively.