(Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna)
The class of 2017 inductees of the Songwriters Hall of Fame were announced this morning, and it features the revered hip hop icon Jay-Z, making Mr. Shawn Carter the first rapper to become inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career, several standout tracks like the Alicia Keys duet “Empire State of Mind,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and the Beyoncé collaboration “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” justify his induction. According to Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, who announced the inductees, the 21-time Grammy winner “was in a space where, even though he’s had more pop albums than anyone else, because he did it through rap,” it took longer for traditional voters to consider him. He continues “It’s massive. He has changed the way we listen to music. He’s changed the way that we have fun.”
Despite the monumental nature of Jay-Z’s induction, the rest of this year’s inductees are not lacking in pedigree. The rest include one-man hit factory Max Martin alongside Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and three members of Chicago. Martin has written or co-written 22 No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Gordy contributed to an impressive number of Motown artists including Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye. Babyface was behind 16 No.1s including Madonna’s “Take a Bow” and Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road.” Jam and Lewis have penned hits for Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, among others. The Chicago trio of Robert Lamm, James Pankow and particularly Peter Cetera have their own share of celebrated classic rock hits such as “25 or 6 to 4” and “Saturday in the Park.”
Following the news, Warner/Chappell Chairman & CEO Jon Platt praised Jay Z’s achievement in a memo to staff: “Since his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, was released over two decades ago, it’s been an incredible honor to work with the greatest MC of all time as he continues to achieve the unprecedented. Today, his songwriting is celebrated with a new, landmark achievement: being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. With this announcement, Jay is also the first rap artist to ever be inducted into the SHOF. This is an enormous accomplishment for Jay, as well as on behalf of fellow hip-hop songwriters everywhere, as he takes his place alongside past inductees and legends, ranging from Bob Dylan to Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye to Lennon & McCartney.”