The 31st annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held last Friday – April 8 and once again, we witnessed the extreme instability, disorganization and complete lack of professional and objective judgment when it comes to honoring and appreciating artists. This year, the “institution” finally decided that it’s time for Deep Purple to receive the “respectable” recognition after so many years of devotion, hard work and impeccable musicianship. Well, I guess it was not enough now was it?
Deep Purple aside, before, during and after the ceremony numerous people expressed their strong opinions on whether or not N.W.A – an American hip hop band, formed in the late 80s, should’ve been inducted into the rock & roll hall of fame . Hmm, yes – I did use the words “hip hop” and “rock & roll” in the same sentence and it did feel quite weird… The cherry on top was of course, the still ongoing twitter dispute between Gene Simmons of KISS and Ice Cube from N.W.A. Basically, those two can’t agree upon what rock & roll is and `who is “allowed” to be called “rock & roll”. I have to say, the whole situation did make me think about a few issues which I would really like to share with you guys in the following publication.
First of all, we need to address the institution itself – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I have a very strong opinion regarding the way they operate things and throughout the years I have been constantly convinced that those people have no idea what to do and how to differentiate between a musician who left a huge impact on the industry, made a big difference and inspired generations, and a musician who had a few years of minor chart success and left us with absolutely nothing. Like for instance, why the hell were Green Day inducted and Judas Priest – also known as the “Metal Gods” who made the biggest difference in the metal scene were not???
Secondly, we need to analyze whether Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is an institution that honors all kinds of musicians, from every genre possible, or is focusing only on major names, contributing to the development of rock music? And here comes the big question – what do we mean by rock & roll? Well, rock & roll never was and never will be just about the music, the fame and the money – it goes way beyond that. Rock & roll is a statement, a passion and a desire to change and influence the society for better. Rock & roll is a movement – an idea that makes you free and gives you a reason to live. Going back to the roots of rock & roll – we all know that it’s basically a mixture between elements of blues, jazz, country music, gospel, boogie-woogie and many sub-genres. Of course, mostly we have to thank African-American music, especially blues and gospel for laying the foundations of rock & roll. For those reasons – yes we do need to honor musicians whose music significantly differ from what we are used to associate with rock BUT were the ones who plant the first seeds! Let’s talk about great artists such as Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and Ray Charles – do you think we would have bands such as the Beatles, the Ramones, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd without them? No – we won’t. So – we get to the final point of what I’m trying to say. Rock & Roll is a linear evolutionary process and we need to understand, analyze and properly honor every musician, artist, and producer…every big name that helped this genre progress and develop.
On the other side – we have pop, hip hop and r&b music which of course comes from the same roots as rock & roll. People really like to differentiate and put “everything in its place” but if we look at the big picture, those styles are very interrelated and can’t go without one another. Artists like to experiment, music is evolving, new instruments, ideas and visions are combined…so how can we judge musicians so blindly and label them, knowing that every genre is actually a combination of so many elements of other genres…everything is TOO CONNECTED!
So – to sum up my thoughts – Rock & Roll may be present in pretty much each and every musician and artist – whether we talk about someone who lived 30 years ago or someone who is making music nowadays. Rock & Roll is about changing the society with your music – it’s about influence and a passion to create something meaningful that can make the world a better place. Having this in mind, I would like to conclude by saying that it’s wrong to judge Rock Hall of Fame for adding a hip hop band like N.W.A. – firstly, because hip hop is just the genre they chose to represent their desire to change the world (which is the core idea of rock & roll); secondly – because in terms of influence – they did left quite the mark. I am not so deeply familiar with the major points of their career but based on what I’ve heard and read – yes, they were influential and became one of the most important bands in the history of hip hop music. HOWEVER – what I personally think is SO WRONG is the so called “prioritization” and extreme lack of judgment of those “rock experts” who “evaluate” the candidates and then vote on who should be inducted or not. This year once again we also had the “fan vote” which supposedly contributed to the decision BUT except that, the decision lies on the hands of the “voting body”. So my question is – how come those people keep on being so blind and unprofessional in what they do?? I agree – the influence and the music may be there – but let’s compare them to other bands who perform 100% rock music – Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Foreigner, YES, Cars, Journey, RONNIE JAMES DIO and sooo much more! How in the hell you made the decision that N.W.A.’s career meant more and made a bigger impact than the career of rock legends such as the above mentioned? What kind of a person refuses to acknowledge brilliant songs, known word by word by people from all over the world; endless masterpiece albums made by artists who gave up their whole lives for the rock music industry? You just selectively push aside artists with infinite music catalogue and never-ending concert tours for a hip hop band that barely released two albums in their whole career? I mean, come on…. I am trying to figure it out and I just can’t …I mean no disrespect to any band out there because every performer and every song matter! But since we are talking about rock & roll hall of fame and those guys choose just a few musicians every year, they SHOULD be very strict and examine very carefully the career course, the devotion, the ideas, the talents and the impact the music of those musicians had on the world…. So I will ask again… How do rock & roll hall of fame “experts” decided that a hip hop band with two albums deserves to be honored but a band with a 40 year career and more than 15 studio albums behind their back, nicknamed “the metal Gods”, apparently DOESN’T DESERVE to be honored? (yes I was giving an example with Judas Priest)….
I want to hear your opinions on the issue and have in mind the fact that the above paragraphs represent just my own personal opinion….
By the way – I would advise every artist, band, songwriter, producer, performer, etc. who is about to be inducted into this “prestigious” and “glorious” institution to go FULL SEX PISTOLS on it!