The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its official 2015 inductee list and, despite a push for more diversity in fan voting and nominations, this year’s list is dominated by older, White classic rock bands. The notable exception, however, is seminal hip-hop group N.W.A. Dubbed “The World’s Most Dangerous Group,” the five-man crew from Compton will be enshrined alongside top sellers like Chicago, heavy metal legends Deep Purple, the Steve Miller Band, and power pop quartet Cheap Trick.
N.W.A.’s induction comes on the heels of their blockbuster biopic Straight Outta Compton, which was released this past summer to rave reviews and big box office returns, in spite of criticisms surrounding both a now-infamous racially-charged casting call notice from last year and the film’s oversanitizing of the group’s lyrics and history. N.W.A. will be the fifth hip-hop act inducted into the hall, following Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (2007), Run-D.M.C. (2009), the Beastie Boys (2012) and Public Enemy (2013).
The list of snubs this year is more impressive than the list of inductees: beloved British mopers The Smiths, industrial pioneers Nine Inch Nails, soul diva Chaka Khan, pop megastar Janet Jackson and, for the 10th year in a row, funk/pop/disco legends Chic were left out in the cold. Artists are eligible for nomination 25 years after their first release. Many of the inductees have been waiting for inclusion for several years, but it doesn’t change the fact that this year’s list of inductees is disturbingly slanted towards male White rockers from the ’70s, a sort of last gasp for the “classic rock” generation and another thumbing of the nose at the stars and genres that emerged later.
It the Rock Hall wants to gain any semblence of relevance to the non-Baby Boomer audience, it has to embrace post-1980 stars and styles a lot more than it has shown itself willing to in the past. Hip-hop, dance pop, trash metal, electronica, hardcore, contemporary R&B–these are the sounds that have defined the last 35 years and as long as the Rock Hall keeps living in the ’60s and ’70s and only acknowledging bands who are tethered to those eras, it will continue it’s slide into obscurity.
But congratulations to this year’s nominees.