Steve Miller named to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — then blasts it as ‘elitist’
N.W.A joins quartet of 1970s hit-makers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Compton, California, hip-hop crew – aka N—-z Wit Attitude – will join the 31st class of the Rock Hall on April 8 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Soft-rockers Chicago, heavy-metal forerunners Deep Purple, power-pop outfit Cheap Trick and everyone’s favorite midnight toker Steve Miller all get the nod.“When you look at the people not inducted, it’s crazy,” he told me Thursday after I heard he was named to the 2016 class. “The Spinners were one of the greatest live acts ever to sing and play.
Could Steve Howe, who’s best known as the guitarist for Yes, get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2016 in a non-performer category, such as the Ahmet Ertegun Lifetime Achieve Award or the Award for Musical Excellence? (Chuck Yarborough, The Plain Dealer) Yeah, I’m with you that the seminal prog-rock band should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella and the late Eazy-E — kicked down the door to suburban Middle America with their politically charged debut full-length Straight Outta Compton.
Dre and Ice Cube, was elected after three unsuccessful nominations in a year when a movie about the group’s career, “Straight Outta Compton,” was a box-office hit. Their hard-core tales of life on the street on songs like “F— the Police” made them a provocative chart presence in the late 1980s and influenced an empire of other acts. That’s the living embodiment of the summer tour that rolls into the local shed and you can get a $15 lawn ticket on Groupon.” There is another way to view induction. Guitarist Miller came out of the San Francisco rock scene and became a dependable maker of pop hits like “Take the Money and Run,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Jet Airliner” and “Jungle Love.” Midwestern favorites Cheap Trick succeeded with a highly amped version of Beatles-influenced melodies on hits “Surrender” and “Dream Police.” Their “Live at Budokan” album is one of rock’s best-known live sets. That unlike sports halls, where certain statistical realities can almost require inclusion – unless you’re a juicer or spent too much time, ahem, at the track – the rock temple is entirely subjective.
N.W.A’s bars took the First Amendment and ran with it, especially with the protest anthem “F— Tha Police.” At their 1989 show in Detroit, the city’s police department showed up to the arena with the intent of arresting them on stage and wound up cuffing them in their hotel lobby after. The FBI even targeted the Ruthless rappers, sending a warning letter to Priority Records, which housed N.W.A’s music, in the midst of the media storm surrounding the controversial track.
Cheap Trick moved swiftly to capitalize on the honor, announcing Thursday they had signed a new deal with Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine Records. Their personal tales of street violence, their controversial perception of women (See: “ A Bitch Iz A Bitch”) and their feelings about the men in blue were presented unapologetically. Sure, everybody loves singing along to Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” or playing air guitar to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” but they’re relics in comparison.
Did he think it was unfair other deserving bands and musicians didn’t make the cut? “It’s like that one year of the Grammys where Jethro Tull got in there as heavy metal,” he said. “How does anybody come to this decision? Raiders and Kings caps and heavy gold chains — became a fashion statement mimicked by their fans, which ranged from hardcore hip hop heads in American cities to a growing group of bored middle class suburban rap fans who were drawn to that gritty realness and “truth” that Lamar spoke about. Then there’s Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, who is as much – and maybe more – a producer and composer (he’s been focusing on movie scores of late) as a “performer.” Is it likely? In many ways, their album also served as a prelude to the madness of the 1992 L.A. riots that broke out following the acquittal of four LAPD officers who caught on videotape beating Rodney King.
Even die-hard Steve Miller fans can’t deny that the idea of N.W.A. doing “F**k tha Police” in front of an audience of suited and booted industry people is way more interesting than hearing “The Joker” for the 67,484th time. Dre’s alleged past abuse with women, the fallout with Eazy-E before his death from AIDS in 1995), their stories from the ‘hood rang louder than the cop sirens, at a time when pop was the hustle for most rappers to chase. The big-screen biopic appealed to old school fans and N.W.A newbs alike (though the motion picture received heavy criticism for omitting Dre’s abuse allegations).
Even their solo careers post-N.W.A, especially Cube and Dre, injected hip-hop’s DNA with the unfiltered aggression later heard in Snoop Dogg, the late Tupac, Eminem, 50 Cent and the aforementioned K.Dot.
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