Earlier today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced their 2022 induction class, which includes one hip-hop icon, Eminem. He joins Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G, Jay-Z and LL Cool J, who have all been inducted over the years. This was Em’s first year of eligibility — artists need to have released their first single or album 25 years ago to be considered. But his quick induction got us thinking about other artists who have been eligible for years and haven’t even been on the ballot. Who else do you think should be on the ballot?
Queen Latifah began her career in hip-hop when she dropped her debut album 'All Hail the Queen' in 1989. She later released 'Nature of a Sista' in 1991 which was her last record with the label. Her third album, 'Black Reign' (1993), which was released under Motown, became the first album by a solo female rapper to receive an RIAA certification. The album delivered the single "U.N.I.T.Y.", which raised awareness of violence against women and the objectification of Black women's sexuality. The song also got her her first Grammy. In her hip-hop career, the Queen released five studio albums. The Queen has transcended music: she was the star of the ABC comedy 'Living Single' where she played Khadijah James, the lead in the bank-robbing drama film 'Set It Off,' portrayed Bessie Smith in the HBO film 'Bessie' among many other roles. Not only being a talented rapper, her many works in film and television have also been recognized. She has been awarded an Emmy, Gold Globe, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, and an Academy Award nomination. Latifah also became the first hip-hop artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which she was honored with in 2006. The rapper-turned-actress currently stars as Robyn McCall in the CBS drama 'The Equalizer.'
Snoop Dogg has made himself a staple in the culture by continuing to innovate and expand his brand. The West Coast rapper, who just performed during the Super Bowl LVI Halftime show, has been nominated for 16 Grammys, has released 19 studio albums, and now owns Death Row Records, the label where he began his rap career. Snoop Dogg came to fame after his feature on Dr. Dre's debut solo single "Deep Cover" and throughout several songs on Dre's debut solo album 'The Chronic' which was released in 1992. His debut solo album, 'Doggystyle', produced by Dr. Dre, was released by Death Row Records in November of 1993. The record debuted at No. 1 on the popular albums chart, the Billboard 200, and on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The California native has also ventured over to television and film over the course of his career starring in 'Soul Plane' and 'Training Day' among others including hosting gigs such as 'Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party' and currently hosting 'American Song Contest' with Kelly Clarkson.
Nas is one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. The New York rapper began his career when he recorded demos for Large Professor. His debut album 'Illmatic' was released in 1994 and gained critical acclaim and later was inducted into the library of Congress's National Recording Registry. His second album 'It Was Written' which was released in 1996 contained the song "If I Ruled The World" with Fugees rapper Lauryn Hill. That song and album propelled Nas even further into hip-hop icon status. Although Nas is considered to be one of the greatest rappers, the New York native is used to being dismissed when it comes to being on the receiving end of awards. Just last year, Nas received his first Grammy win for "Best Rap Album" at the 63rd Grammy Awards for 'King's Disease'. He had been nominated for a Grammy 14 times prior.
Lil' Kim is truly one of one and has been notably referred to as the Queen of Rap and rightfully so. She began her career after being discovered by the Notorious B.I.G. when she was asked to join his group Junior M.A.F.I.A. They had great commercial success off of their debut album 'Conspiracy' which went gold before she branched out onto her solo career. Her solo debut album 'Hard Core' was released in 1996 went certified platinum by the RIAA and featured hits "No Time", "Not Tonight (Ladies Night)", and "Crush on You". Her following albums also went certified platinum 'The Notorious K.I.M.' and 'La Bella Mafia' and were released in 2000 and 2003, respectively. "Lady Marmalade" which saw her collaborate with Christina Aguilera, Mya and P!nk won a Grammy for "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Other notable songs by the Queen Bee are "Big Momma Thang", "The Jump Off" and "The Magic Stick" which all have given Lil' Kim great success. Her songs created a space for women to not be ashamed of their sexuality and femininity which was a rarity in music at the time.
Ice-T began his career in hip-hop after his debut album 'Rhyme Pays' in 1987 after rapping for several years prior underground. 'Rhyme Pays' was reportedly the first album to contain an explicit content sticker. From there he released 'Power' after creating his own record label Rhyme $yndicate Records. Later on in his career, he co-founded the heavy metal band called Body Count which he had on his 1991 rap album 'O.G. Original Gangster,' on the record "Body Count." The New Jersey native met controversy with his lyrics on the track "Cop Killer" where the lyrics in reaction to the unjustified harassment and killings of Black people by the police. "It was a year before Rodney King, and I was living in the world where cops were snatching people out of their cars and beating their a--," he said about the track, per The Source. "So I thought, 'What if somebody went on a binge against the brutal cops, how would you feel about that?'" He also added that he was never a "cop hater" and ironically after he stopped rapping he took to the small screen with his role as Sergeant Fin Tutuola on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.'
The Wu-Tang Clan was formed in Staten Island and through their countless contributions to elevating East Coast sound in hip-hop. Its members include RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa. Cappadonna, who was a close affiliate of the group, later became an official member. Wu-Tang Clan released their debut album, 'Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)' in 1993 after signing to Loud Records the previous year. The album is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. While members released solo projects between 1994 and 1996, they came back together to create their sophomore album 'Wu-Tang Forever.' That album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for "Best Rap Album" at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Method Man, the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, GZA, Ghostface and Raekwon have all established successful solo careers outside of the group.
Eric B. and Rakim are the DJ/MC duo that were formed in Long Island in 1986. They are one of the most influential duos in hip-hop. "Eric B. Is President" was the duo's first single and their first widely known success. Eric B. and Rakim then recorded their debut album, 'Paid in Full', featured classics "I Ain't No Joke," "Paid In Full," "I Know You Got Soul" and "Eric B. Is President." 'Paid in Full' climbed to the top of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Charts but Eric admitted that the album was rushed."The reason 'Paid In Full' is so short is because we stood in the studio for damn-near a week," he said per Complex. "The whole album came together in a week. Listen to the lyrics on it and listen to how short they are. That's because Rakim wrote it right there and we'd been in the studio like for a whole forty-eight hours trying to get the album finished." The album however went certified platinum in 1995 and the two later signed a deal with MCA. Rakim is widely considered one of the best MCs of all time.
The Roots were formed by rapper Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and are considered to be "hip-hop's first band." Their eccentric approach to hip-hop had sparked critical acclaim overseas as their debut album 'Organix,' was released independently in 1993. They produced a cult following in Europe fueled by touring and were later signed to Geffen. The Roots' first major label album, 'Do You Want More?!!!??!,' was released in 1995 and during the recording process beatboxer, Rahzel and keyboardist, Scott Storch joined the band. Storch was later replaced by a new keyboardist, Kamal Gray. Band members Captain Kirk Douglas, Frank "Knuckles" Walker, Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson, and James Poyser were added to the band over the years. The band went on to produce 12 more albums with popular hits such as "What They Do," "You Got Me," "Star/Pointro" and many more. As of the present, The Roots serve as the house band on NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'; Questlove recently won a Grammy and an Oscar for his directorial debut, 'Summer Of Soul.'
ATLiens Big Boi and Andre 3000 broke the east and west coast's stronghold on hip-hop, and ignored any borders between gangsta rap and "conscious" hip-hop. Lyrically, they addressed everything from parenthood to drug dealing to politics. Musically, they sounded like no one else, drawing from funk, ragtime jazz, rock, but adding their southern twang. They never felt the need to choose between seemingly opposite ideas in their lyrics, music or fashion, and as a result, became one of the most original and distinct groups in hip-hop's history. Oh, and both Andre and Big Boi are on any true hip-hop connoisseur's list of the best MCs ever.
As Toure wrote, “In the mid-1980s, hip-hop promoted a narrow vision of Blackness marked by bravado, machismo, egocentrism and, for most, a bodacious New Yorkness. I looked at hip-hop and wondered where I fit in. Until A Tribe Called Quest arrived on the scene.” Many other fans felt that way; Tribe was a more relatable entry point, but they were always as cool as Run-D.M.C., LL and PE. He continued, “The rappers from Tribe were far from urban jungle warriors: They loved to read and wanted to smoke weed, not sell it. They wore their intellectualism lightly, but proudly, and they made hip-hop for people who were as interested in ideas as in rhymes.” DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad was -- quietly -- one of the greats of his or any other era, giving the group a jazzy swagger that was totally unique. And Q-Tip and the late great Phife Dawg were one of the best MC teams of all time. Tribe was on the Rock Hall’s ballot this year, but didn’t get in.