Jay-Z is one of the most obvious cases that can exist for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. By any metric one looks at, whether one looks at critical appeal, obvious relevance for other musicians, chart placement, album sales, Jay-Z is one of the most influential musicians of any kind, much less rappers, over the past two and a half decades. And while it would seem to be a bit superfluous to talk about his case for induction because he seems so obviously a slam-dunk first year induction case, it is worthwhile because his career accolades set the sort of bar by which other cases can be made. Considering that an artist need only have one amazing album to be worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the fact that Jay-Z’s career has so obviously exceeded the minimum standard is certainly noteworthy and allows us to better understand just how solid of a case an artist can have for induction, given the fact that this case so vastly exceeds the case that the ordinary or even the very good artist has. As someone who only became familiar with the artist when the singles off of his third studio album crossed over into the mainstream, I might have been a bit later on Jay-Z’s career than many others have been, but never let it be said that I have slept on that career or not given it its proper due.
The Influence Of Jay-Z
Let us count the ways that Jay-Z has been massively influential. There is the way that feature slots or duet slots on his songs has been a way for the encouragement of a wide variety of artists as diverse as Mary J. Blige, Babyface, Blackstreet, Ja Rule, DMX, Amil, UGK, R. Kelly (more on him later), Linkin Park, En Vogue, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Mr. Hudson, J. Cole, Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake, and Beoynce (his wife), among others. There is his influence in the way that songs of his have been inventively used and sampled by other artists just as he has interpreted samples from earlier artists to make his own music. His early song “Hard Knock Life,” one of the first I heard from him, sampled the classic song from Annie, and later on his “The Ballad of O.J.” was sampled by Pusha T to mock Drake in “The Story of Adidon,” which is still bothering Drake two years after it happened. Then on top of that there is his influence as the president of Def Jam, and his ability to promote rappers through his label and not only through his own music personally. He has plenty of records about #1 albums and record sales and the like, and has helped to raise not only his personal and metaphorical families to massive success (including his daughter, who has hopped on some hit singles of him and his wife), but has served as an inspiration to many rappers and musicians who have been able to work with him or draw encouragement from his massively successful career.
Why Jay-Z Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
There are at least some people who do not think that rap belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, although I am not one of them. And for those people, it should be noted that Jay-Z has indeed hopped on a few rock tracks, including the triple platinum single “Numb/Encore,” a collaboration with Linkin Park from their double-platinum album Collision Course, as well as Lost+ with Coldplay. For those people who are willing to look beyond rock music and see Jay-Z’s dominance on the music charts, there are some staggering achievements. The most staggering of those achievements is in the world of albums, where all thirteen of Jay-Z’s solo albums have gone platinum, with most going multi-platinum and breakthrough Vol. 2….Hard Knock Life, his third album, going quintuple platinum. Four of his five collaborative albums have gone platinum (twice with R. Kelly), and the fifth, his Everything Is Love collaboration with wife Beyonce, has gone gold so far. He has a gold live album . Concerning singles, he has nineteen top 10 hits, putting him among the greatest all-time, and plenty of his best-known songs, including the #15 “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem,” #11 “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It To Me),” and #18 “Big Pimpin,” never made it to the top ten but are all songs that any rapper would kill to have in their c.v. When Jay-Z sings about a subject, others are quick to cop off of it. His song “99 Problems,” only hit #30 on the charts , but that didn’t make Ariana Grande less apt to comment on it when she said about an ex lover that she had “one less problem without” him, knowing that her audience would understand exactly what she meant. When an artist has that kind of influence, where the music that they make shapes the way that others talk about music so that they can reference him and gain some credit for having done so, obviously they are artists well worth recognizing. I could go on a lot longer about songs like “Young Forever” and “New York State of Mind” and his duets with Pharrell like “Excuse Me Miss” and “Change Clothes” that show his ability to master many different types of songs and flows and collaborate effortlessly and win over critics, make popular albums without singles, make memorable singles, and the like, but we are rapidly getting to the point of overkill here.
Why Jay-Z Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
He just became eligible this year and is one of the most obvious first-year ballot choices imaginable for the RRHOF.
Verdict: He’s going to get in without any trouble at all.