It happened when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 2007, and it happened again this weekend when the Hall welcomed Run-DMC. “Run-DMC? I have lost all respect for the hall of fame.” “rap and hip hop AIN’T ROCK!” “c(rap) and the wonderful word MUSIC should never be said in the same sentence.” So said your fellow Music Mix commenters. Blah, blah, blah. I’m trying not to put this in inflammatory terms, but may I ask what exactly it is that bothers some people so much about the idea of honoring undeniably influential hip-hop pioneers in a rock canon?
Here’s the problem with the argument that these self-appointed music cops are making: “Rock” and “hip-hop” are fluid categories. Go ahead and try to define where one ends and the other begins. You can’t, not with any degree of precision. As I noted when this year’s inductees were first announced a couple months ago, the Hall already includes musicians as diverse as Miles Davis, Van Halen, and the Everly Brothers. “Eruption,” “Bye Bye Love,” and Bitches Brew sound absolutely nothing like one another. That’s okay. They’re all expressions of rock music, reflected through one prism or another. The fact is that this puritanical obsession with boundaries and definitions couldn’t run more counter to rock’s true transgressive spirit. “Rock and roll” means whatever any artist wants it to mean. If you need that magical circle to exclude “King of Rock” because, what — it has a looped backbeat? Its lyrics are proclaimed rather than crooned? The people who recorded it don’t dress like your idea of “rock stars”? — then I’m afraid that’s just your loss.
But please, tell me what I’m missing here. If you’re one of the folks who objects to Run-DMC entering the Hall, enlighten me. Just why does this get under your skin?
More from EW’s Music Mix:
Metallica, Run-DMC inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
What’s the most heartbreaking song of all time?
Spike Jonze and Kanye West to reunite for short film
Method Man and Redman talk reunion album, movie plans, and more