N.W.A. member Ice Cube has something to say to people like Kiss’ Gene Simmons who insist the hip-hop ensemble has no place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

No, it’s not “fuck ‘em.” But as he spelled out to The New York Times yesterday (April 7), he believes the pioneering group embodied the spirit of rock and roll despite their genre: 

Gene Simmons, of Kiss, said a few years ago that rappers didn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, because they don’t play guitar or sing.

I respect Gene Simmons, but I think he’s wrong on this, because rock ‘n’ roll is not an instrument and it’s not singing. Rock ‘n’ roll is a spirit. N.W.A is probably more rock ‘n’ roll than a lot of the people that he thinks belong there over hip-hop. We had the same spirit as punk rock, the same as the blues.

Cube also said that “Straight Outta Compton’srecord-breaking success had something to do with their induction:

How much do you think “Straight Outta Compton” helped to legitimize N.W.A in the eyes of an institution like the Rock Hall and its voters?

I think it was the thing that put us over the top. [N.W.A had been nominated three times before.] The movie was able to remind them of the impact of the group on pop culture and that the music is just as much rock ‘n’ roll as anything. Rock ‘n’ roll is a form of sped-up blues to me.

According to Cube, N.W.A. felt their performance plans were not supported by the Hall of Fame, so they won’t be performing during the ceremony tonight (April 8):

Will you be performing?

Nah, we’re not performing. I guess we really didn’t feel like we were supported enough to do the best show we could put on.

By the organizers?

Pretty much, yeah. We wanted to do it on a whole other level, and that just couldn’t happen. But we’re totally honored, humbled and appreciative to the Hall for even just considering us, inducting us and inviting us.

None of this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees stirred as much controversy as N.W.A. As we pointed out in December, tons of rock fans criticized the Hall of Fame for inducting a hip-hop group—a racist erasure that ignores the institution’s other hip-hop inductees and the genre’s role in carrying rock’s confrontational torch.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place tonight at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. HBO will air the show on April 30.