N.W.A. will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2016 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday evening. With “Straight Outta Compton” ranking as one of the highest-grossing films at the box office last year, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Mc Ren, Yella and the late Eazy-E reminded millions why they are still the world’s most dangerous, yet courageous group.
Once an artist has been nominated for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award, they undeniably step into an unprecedented space. Musicians become eligible 25 years after the release date of their first recording. Fifty percent of the vote is chosen from the evaluation of about 600 rock experts and the other half are composed of votes determined by fans in an online poll.
Legendary artists Chicago, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick and Steve Miller are also among this year’s honorees, but there were at least four other nominated artists who more than deserve to wear the crown.
4. The Spinners
In a historic era where Motown artists ruled the charts and five member groups were extremely popular, The Spinners soared to new groundbreaking heights as the most smooth sounding group to ever match a lyric to a note in harmony.
In 1954, Detroit natives Bill Henderson, Pervis Jackson, C.P. Spencer, Henry Fambrough and James Edward formed the group and later gained instant notoriety from their debut performance at the Apollo.
Although they had beautifully written songs by Stevie Wonder, mentorship from Aretha Franklin and critical acclaim from spectators, it took them a good 10 years to gain chart success. It wasn’t until they entered the ‘70s with a string of hits that elevated their reputation as a force with which to be reckoned. “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love,” “I’ll Be Around” and “One of A Kind (Love Affair)” allowed The Spinners to dynamically reinvent themselves.
After surviving a few lineup changes, Henry Fambrough, the group’s only surviving member, has actively led the group on nationwide tours. In addition to being nominated for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, The Spinners have been inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Good Times….These Are the Good Times!
Remember jamming to that on the dance floor with Uncle Willie at last year’s family reunion? Well, that’s Chic! Led by one of the most important guitarists in music, Nile Rodgers, Chic elevated the disco era by simply being the group that “made good on hippie peace, love and freedom.” Disappointingly, this year marks the 10th time that Chic has been nominated, making them the most nominated group in the Rock and Roll Hall’s history of potential inductees.
Disappointingly, this year marks the 10th time that Chic has been nominated, making them the most nominated group in the Rock and Roll Hall’s history of potential inductees.
Chic, formed in 1976, is considered to be on the most diverse R&B supergroups of all time. Throughout their long run, members ranged from Luther Vandross to Jocelyn Brown and even Tony Thompson, formerly of LaBelle. The band acquired members with such massive networks that Rodgers was able to arrange for Chic to produce Duran Duran’s classic album "Notorious" and Diana Ross’s self-titled album.
“Good Times” was sampled on two of the most trendsetting records during the beginning era of rap- “Rapper’s Delight,” by The Sugarhill Gang and “On the Wheels of Steel” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.
2. Chaka Khan
The Queen of Funk and 10-time Grammy winner has proven year after year that she is every woman.
Yvette Mari Stevens - aka Chaka Khan - started her four-decade long career in Chicago in 1970 as the lead singer for legendary R&B band, Rufus.
With chart-topping hits under her belt like, “Ain’t Nobody,” “What Cha Gonna Do for Me” and “Through The Fire” Chaka successfully carved her own path while still sustaining her roots in Rufus. However, her most innovative moment arrived when she featured rapper Melle Mel on “I Feel for You.” Written and produced by Prince and accompanied by Stevie Wonder on harmonica, the up-tempo jam was the first R&B song ever to feature a rapper on it. Chaka’s huge musical risks along with her gritty, versatile voice built her to be of the original gatekeepers of soul music.
That single track alone opened up doors for R&B singers like Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans and Monica to successfully top charts with R&B/Hip Hop crossover hits. Chaka recently stepped into the business of reality competitive television when she laced up her dancing shoes for last fall’s season of “Dancing With theStars” on ABC.
1. Janet Jackson
By 1986, Janet was no longer Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5’s youngest sister who played cute little Penny on “Good Times.”
The “Control” album catapulted Janet to lead a new genre in music for black female artists to perform Pop/ R&B dance music. Not only did her songs feature innovative music videos with tight, in your face choreography that made you want to attempt a backflip off a chair, but the structural content of her songs contained heartfelt messages that everyone could relate to. “Rhythm Nation” tackled racism and sexism, “Let’s Wait a While” honored celibacy, “Together Again” conquered homophobia and “Got Til Its Gone” faced depressive sobriety.
Janet’s influence is obviously embedded in today’s crop of female performers like Beyoncé, Ciara and Tinashe. Selling a staggering 180 million albums worldwide, Janet has become one of the top-selling female artists of all time with 10 #1 hits. Her latest album “Unbreakable,” earned the singer her seventh #1 album.
Let’s hope these musical acts can nab a spot next year.