Jay Z makes history

Jay Z with his family, daughter Blue Ivy Carter and wife Beyonce, at a recent NBA game in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Jay Z with his family, daughter Blue Ivy Carter and wife Beyonce, at a recent NBA game in New Orleans, Louisiana.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • The Songwriters Hall of Fame will honour a rapper for the first time at its 48th annual induction ceremony: Jay Z.

The Brooklyn M.C., known for hits Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem), Big Pimpin', Izzo (H.O.V.A.) and Empire State Of Mind, headlines an induction group this year that also includes Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Top 40 maestro Max Martin and the band Chicago's songwriters Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera. Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr, who deferred his induction last year, will also be honoured.

On Wednesday, the Hall announced that, with its new class, the organisation "moves definitively into recognising music creators of the 21st century while continuing to honour the greats of earlier decades". It added: "The songwriters we honour cross genre, regional and even national boundaries - R&B, rap, pop and rock 'n' roll from both coasts, the American heartland and Sweden." The ceremony is on June 15 in Manhattan.

With its gesture towards hip-hop, the Hall follows the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in beginning to acknowledge a genre that has long transcended upstart - or flash-in-the-pan - status and has become a dominant mode in modern popular music.

When Tupac Shakur is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, he will be the sixth hip-hop act ever voted in after Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, RunDMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and N.W.A.

For the Hall's honours, about 20 industry experts annually shortlist two dozen nominees and five would then be chosen for induction by about 1,500 voting members.

"Jay Z is pop music but presents it in a different manner," Ms Linda Moran, the Hall's president, said. "This just shows that we accept it and acknowledge that. It's a step into the future. We can't nurture young songwriters if we can't accept them and grow with them."

Jay Z, 47, who holds the record for a solo artist with 21 No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, commented on Twitter: "By the way, this is a win for us. I remember when rap was said to be a fad. We are now alongside some of the greatest writers in history."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Jay Z makes history'. Print Edition | Subscribe