N.W.A.’s MC Ren responded to Gene Simmons’ criticism of rap in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with this poignant line: “Hip-hop is here forever. Get used to it.”
Ren said those words during N.W.A.’s remarks at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Kendrick Lamar introduced the seminal West Coast group at the ceremony—taped Friday (April 8) night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center—with a touching speech about the group’s influence on his community. Here’s a passage from his introduction, via Rolling Stone:
Chuck D once said rap and hip-hop was the Black CNN. N.W.A represent that to the fullest, am I right? Bringing inner city life to the forefront and making the world pay attention to our realities. Even myself, I look around and I’ve seen people N.W.A spoke for, whether it was my cousin, whether it was my uncle, they were Compton Crip or Piru, they was all influenced. That’s real, y’all probably don’t know about that—y’all looking at me like I’m crazy. But they know! It was all influence, and it all had a deep impression. What they know is a big misconception. The impression was just that they’re trying to kill people. To be clear, to be very clear, the fact that a famous group can look just like one of us and dress like one of us, talk like one of us, proved to every single kid in the ghetto that you can be successful and still have importance while doing it.
Ren seemingly responded to a statement that Kiss bassist Simmons made to Rolling Stone in March, affirming his belief that “rap will die.” He previously criticized the Hall of Fame’s induction of rap artists in a 2014 Radio.com interview:
You’ve got Grandmaster Flash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Run-D.M.C. in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You’re killing me! That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk. Not even sing!
Ice Cube also addressed Simmons’ criticism in a recent Q&A with The New York Times:
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.
Simmons ultimately responded to Cube with the following tweet:
Okayplayer sourced three videos, containing Lamar’s introduction and N.W.A.’s remarks at the induction ceremony. Check those videos out below, and watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on HBO on April 30.