We have award shows, we have publications and media platforms but we don’t have an official hall of fame.
The hall of fame is a concept that will be familiar to any wrestling fan and most sports fans as most organisational bodies have their own dedicated hall of fame. But when it comes to music the only established and respected one is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I looked into this after having a conversation with a friend about who would make a hall of fame list with artists from the generation of music we grew up on in the mid 90s through to now. It was clear cut in some instances and highly debatable in others, but what wasn’t debatable is that there should be a hall of fame for our culture.
Recently on Twitter, there have been a few conversations that made me question the hall of fame idea. Well, actually it was two conversations. Was 50 Cent in his prime as big as Drake? Will there ever be another Michael Jackson?
The answer to those questions is relatively straight forward. To the first, yes absolutely – when 50 Cent broke onto the scene and hit his peak he influenced music, fashion, film and popular culture all before the internet had begun to dominate the music industry. He did it through mainly physical sales and has even been cited as an inspiration by Drake. That’s not to downplay Drake either, he just has the benefit of easier access in reaching his audience.
To the second question no. There is and will only ever be one Michael Jackson. Nobody, not even Drake, has the ability to do what Michael did, and the era of someone being able to comparably compete has passed. Michael Jackson stands alone as an artist who had the entire world at his feet through his musical output and ability to entertain.
So what do they have to do with the hall of fame you might be thinking. Well, Drake statistically should be in a hall of fame list of some kind, and so should 50 Cent (Michael Jackson is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). There have been attempts at other music halls of fame but none have taken off. There was a big push for a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame Awards but that fell through after the passing of Tupac and Biggie in the late 90s. Here in the UK, there was an attempt at a general hall of fame but even that only lasted 3 years.
Now granted the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has thrived for good reason, despite its name it acknowledges those outside of the Rock & Roll genre. As such it has had huge names like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, James Brown, N.W.A and just this year The Notorious B.I.G all inducted. The good thing about it is that is it has been that inclusive since the awards began with James Brown being inducted in the first year of the ceremony. But it leaves plenty of things untold and plenty of people without acknowledgement because of its broad scope.
Having a specific focus on music from our culture would mean people that pioneered the Trap genre like Jeezy, T.I, and Gucci Mane would get their recognition certified for their contributions. It would mean the fledgeling Drill pioneers globally like Chief Keef, 67, and Pop Smoke would have their names marked in history and it’s important that they are. Having a diverse musical history that evolves is great, but it’s especially great to have all of those figures that make the culture what it is celebrated in a context that makes sense. Just imagine an awards show like the MOBOs only instead of success at the moment we celebrate entire careers and the impact of them.
Speaking of the MOBOs they would be great to organise this. They have their lifetime achievement award so they’re already in the ballpark of a hall of fame and they have the awards show format experience and contacts. All they would need to do was either create categories or decide on a number of inductees as well as judging criteria and suddenly the MOBOs Hall of Fame would be born. But then again maybe awarded recognition shouldn’t be the focus as a lot of artists stories are kept alive online, by word of mouth, and by big names in the culture who refuse to let certain contributions go overlooked.