NWA is a candidate for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second straight year, and look to be only the third Hip-Hop act to have the prestigious membership into the club of elite rockers behind Run D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys. NWA is the only Hip-Hop act on the list of candidates this year which includes Green Day, Chic, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Marvelettes, Bill Withers, War, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sting, The Spinners, The Smiths, Lou Reed and Nine Inch Nails.
NWA is best known as the “Gangsta Rap” group that first introduced Hip-Hop listeners to Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren. Their music switched the focus of the Hip-Hop music scene from New York and the East Coast to California with a unique sound and a much more ruthless image than their East Coast counterparts.
NWA only released two albums, the first of which was Straight Outta Compton, which was NWA’s claim to fame, featuring ever-popular singles Straight Outta Compton, Express Yourself, and F*** The Police. The group’s second album, released without any contribution from Ice Cube, was N****z4Life, which many Rap listeners received just as well as the first album, but the statement NWA looked to make had already been made by Straight Outta Compton.
NWA split up altogether by the early 90’s, and Eazy-E went on to have a successful solo career, launching Cleveland’s own Bone Thugz-N-Harmony before his death in 1995 resulting from pneumonia complications after contracting AIDS. Ice Cube went on to have a very successful rap career, releasing multiple classics and then making moves in Hollywood. Dr. Dre became perhaps the most successful original NWA member of all as he launched the careers of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game and Kendrick Lamar, became the front man for Beats by Dre Headphones and influenced Hip-Hop altogether down to its very sound and beat-making process, creating a sound he calls “G-Funk.”
The largest knock against NWA and their chances to get inducted into the Hall of Fame is that they are not a rock act at all. They did not even flirt with the rock sound at any point, as one major difference between them and the Hip-Hop acts that have made it into Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C. One reason that NWA may not make it into the club is that, while they made a lasting impression on the world in a short time and altered Hip-Hop culture, and therefore world culture forever, their actual run as a musical unit lasted for a very short time. To be considered, a musical act must have first released music at least 25 years ago, and many of the other acts on the list still release music to this day.
The list of 19 candidates, including NWA, that can potentially become inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be condensed to just five by this winter, and fans will be able to vote as part of the induction process until Dec. 9 as a part of the “Fan’s Ballot.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony moves back to Cleveland, Ohio on April 15, 2015.
By LaBaron Jackson