Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Induct N.W.A.

Members of the music group N.W.A. by Eric Poppleton Front cover of the Maxi-Single "Gangsta Gangsta"

Members of the music group N.W.A. by Eric Poppleton
Front cover of the Maxi-Single “Gangsta Gangsta”

The names of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2016 Inductees have been released. Only one African American group was selected among the five artists/groups to be inducted. The inductees are, listed alphabetically, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, N.W.A., and Steve Miller.

These five were selected from a much larger group, which included The Cars, Chaka Khan, Chic, The J.B.’s, Janet Jackson, Los Lobos, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths, The Spinners, and Yes, all in the Performer Category. A total of five African American artists / groups were snubbed this year, along with five others.

In other words, the Hall selected one of the six African American artists / groups nominated, (16.6 %); and four out of the remaining nine other artists /groups, (44.4%). Thus, fewer than half as many nominated African American artists / groups were selected as others, leaving out the phenomenal Chaka Khan, Chic, The J.B.’s, Janet Jackson, and The Spinners.

N.W.A Inductees are DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and MC Ren. N.W.A.’s improbable rise from marginalized outsiders to the most controversial and complicated voices of their generation remains one of rock’s most explosive, relevant and challenging tales. Compton, California was once a leafy oasis of upwardly mobile African-American success, but by the time of the group’s 1986 inception the city’s traditional woes of segregation, failing schools, unemployment, mass incarceration and gangs were now joined by militarized law enforcement, crack cocaine and Reaganomics.

Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella, by force of will and unrelenting tales of street life, sold tens of millions of records, influenced multiple generations the world over and extended artistic middle fingers to the societal barriers of geography, respectability, caste, authority and whatever else happened to get in their way. N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit’ Attitudes) made a way out of no way, put their city on the map and solidified the disparate elements of gangsta rap into a genre meaty enough to be quantified, imitated and monetized for generations to come.

With well over a hundred million records collectively sold over the last 29 years, N.W.A. and its extended family tree of platinum satellites (J.J. Fad, The D.O.C, Above The Law, Michel’le, Yo-Yo, Da Lench Mob, Del the Funky Homosapien, Hieroglyphics, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg, The Dogg Pound, The Lady of Rage, Bone Thugsn-Harmony, 2Pac, Westside Connection, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game, Kendrick Lamar) helped set the stage for hip hop’s emergence as one of this planet’s most dominant musical life forms.

Selected discography: N.W.A. And The Posse (1987) • “Straight Outta Compton,” “F*** The Police,” “Gangsta Gangsta,” Straight Outta Compton (1988) • 100 Miles And Runnin’ (1990) • Niggaz4Life (1991)

The 31st Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place on Friday, April 8, 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the second time. HBO will broadcast the ceremony in spring 2016.