March, the madness of college basketball, the frost of spring and my tear soaked bracket. March also prepares us for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Next month the hall will be inducting six new performers. Among this illustrious list, the third Hip-Hop act, Public Enemy will be enshrined. Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five were first followed by Run-D.M.C. The immediate conundrum facing the selection committee will be how to judge and manage the plethora of Hip-Hop acts that will become eligible within the next five years. Will there be madness?
Currently the museum has 279 inductees or 701 people via 26 ceremonies. The criterion states that an artist is eligible 25 years after their initial release. With this as the backdrop the following Hip-Hop groups/artist will be in position for eligibility within the next five years:
N.W.A., (Ice Cube, Eazy E and Dr. Dre), Too $hort, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, U.G.K., 8 Ball & MJG, Wu Tang Clan, Tupac, 2 Live Crew, KRS ONE, Ice- T, Master P, Kurtis Blow, Geto Boys and Sir Mix-a-Lot. Say what you want about any of the above names but each can make a claim as to why they should be enshrined for their contributions to the music industry.
At first look 2 Live Crew does not pass the smell test; however, history may debate that they may be the single most influential group of the past 25 years. Let’s examine, August 1989 Milt Ahlerich of the FBI office of public affairs in Los Angeles sent a letter to Priority Records and N.W.A. Ahlerich was quick to state, "Advocating violence and assault is wrong, and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action." This statement was in reference to the song "---- Tha Police."
A year later As Nasty as They Wanna Be by 2 Live Crew was formally ruled obscene and illegal to sell, distribute or perform in three Florida counties. Americans begin to discuss its stance on freedom of speech and more importantly the First Amendment. Unlike N.W.A. 2 Live Crew was being distributed by Luther Campbell’s own company Skyywalker Records and things became quite “nasty.”
2 Live Crew was now the epicenter of a national debate and America was engrossed in a narrative on obscenity versus art. The noise created by the local court’s decision branded 2 Live Crew as the poster child for freedom of speech. The open dialogue became vociferous and people became appalled at the thought of government deciding what we can and cannot listen to. As a result of this legal debate, 2 Live Crew became internationally known. Showing no shame, Atlantic Records, under the guise of support, recognized a fortuitous opportunity and picked up the distribution of the album. 2 Live Crew went on to sell over 2 million copies of As Nasty as They Wanna Be and change the way Hip-Hop acts would record music years later. A solid contribution to music world-wide!