The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees for 2022 were announced today and among those nominated are Eminem and A Tribe Called Quest. The legendary hip-hop group and rapper are joined by Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, Rage Against the Machine, and more. “This year’s ballot recognizes a diverse group of incredible artists, each who has had a profound impact on the sound of youth culture,” said John Sykes, chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, in a statement. “Their music not only moved generations but also influenced the sound of countless artists that followed.”, he continued.
When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame released its list of nominees for 2022 induction, the debate we’ve come to expect given the institution’s history wasn’t far behind. There’s no shortage of gripes from fans, many having to do with the Hall’s apparent blind spot for Black female artists and post-disco R&B acts. However, the most head-scratching news of all is the first-time nomination of Eminem, whose inclusion this year highlights, once again, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s rather disrespectful treatment of hip-hop.
Let’s get this out of the way. Marshall Mathers, taken on his own merits, has a strong case for the Hall. He’s one of the best-selling artists of all time, and in his prime years he was one of the genre’s defining talents — an obscenely skillful lyricist who for decades has played the role of jokester, storyteller, every parent’s nightmare, respected rhyme tactician, and devoted hip-hop fanboy.
It also hasn’t hurt him that Eminem is white in a majority-Black genre, a factor that has helped him reach certain platforms his peers could never imagine. To his credit, he has made note of this fact several times throughout his career. (He once mocked rock stations for playing his blistering manifesto “The Way I Am,” despite Slim Shady being about as “rock” as Redman.)
So the question isn’t whether or not he deserves to be placed alongside his idol LL Cool J, whom he performed with during last year’s induction ceremony. It’s whether he should be voted in ahead of all the other deserving hip-hop pioneers who just so happen to be Black. The Rock Hall has a hip-hop problem. The idea that Eminem will get in before the likes of Eric B & Rakim (who have disappeared from the ballot after their first nomination in 2012), Ice T, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan, Outkast, and the Roots, opens up a problematic can of worms. Salt-N-Pepa, the first female hip-hop act to go platinum, multi-platinum, and command headlining status beyond the confines of rap, haven’t even been nominated. All of these acts are pioneers who paved the way for Eminem’s success, but they’re going to have to wait at least another year to be honored.