Jay Z the first rapper named to Songwriters Hall of Fame

Jay Z and wife Beyonce attend a basketball game in New York in a 2015 file photo.
Jay Z and wife Beyonce attend a basketball game in New York in a 2015 file photo.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Hip-hop icon Jay Z is the first rapper chosen for the Songwriters Hall of Fame, heading a class of inductees that also features Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and R&B crooner Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, the group said on Wednesday (Feb 22).

The 47-year-old Jay Z, who has sold more than 100 million records in his career since his debut Reasonable Doubt in 1996, is a 21-time Grammy winner - and the husband of pop diva Beyonce.

"Also a powerful entrepreneur across the music/entertainment, fashion and sports industries, Jay Z personifies the 'American Dream'," the Songwriters Hall of Fame said in a statement announcing the class of 2017.

He will be inducted into the Hall on June 15 in New York along with Gordy, Edmonds and three members of the band Chicago - Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera.

Other inductees include songwriting-production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis - best known for their work with Janet Jackson - and hit-maker Max Martin, who has written songs for groups from the Backstreet Boys to Katy Perry and The Weeknd.