“Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge/ I’m trying not to lose my head.” For anyone whose lived, even for a while, in the inner city, that line from 1982’s classic rap anthem ‘The Message’ resonated strongly and clearly. Now, it’s probably because I’m from the Bronx, but today’s news that Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame makes me particularly happy. It appears to be the first year that a bona fide hip-hop act (and not just a funk, soul, blues, or R&B ancestor) has been given the honor. And who better to be the first than Grandmaster Flash, who practically invented scratching and other DJ turntable techniques still used today? One can only hope that this opens the door for more hip-hop inductees in the future. (And I don’t want to see any comments that say, “But this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!”)
R.E.M, Patti Smith, Van Halen, and the Ronettes make up the rest of the more predictable list, which was whittled down to five from nine. I’m surprised that the Ronettes were chosen over the Stooges, however. I mean, I love “Be My Baby” as much as the next person born in the age of Dirty Dancing, but we’re talking about THE STOOGES here. Maybe it’s because Iggy and the Stooges have a new album (their first in 23 years) and a biography coming out, and it would seem too much like a promotional endorsement to induct them. Or it might have to do with the fact that Ronnie Bennett never sang a song while smeared in blood. Or peanut butter.