Jay Z Inducted Into Songwriters Hall of Fame: Why This Matters for Hip Hop

By Jaylin Paschal

In yet another cultural feat, Hip Hop--a marginalized culture and ostracized genre; deemed "inappropriate," "unartistic" and "immature--" has joined the ranks of the most thoughtful, iconic, influential, provocative and meticulously written songs in history as Brooklyn's own Sean "Jay Z" Carter is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

There's reasonable doubt (pun intended) that you need a reminder of Jay's track record for monumental hits, but it would be remiss for me not to mention his standouts like “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” “Big Pimpin’” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).”

Hov is the first rapper to ever receive the honor. Of forty-eight annual ceremonies for the honor, only this one represents Hip Hop. Hov is now among artists like Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds is also being inducted this year.

Songwriters are eligible for induction only after writing hit tracks for at least 20 years. Jay Z is being inducted as he recently passed the 20th anniversary of his debut album Reasonable Doubt, released in 1996.

This is, as Hov said in a tweet, much bigger than one artists' career. This nod to Hip Hop provides for us space in a realm of lyricism they thought was out of our reach.

Jay Z addresses the honor on Twitter

Recognition for Hip Hop's artistic and often acrobatic songwriting is overdue and often  withheld. We constantly see Hip Hop being snubbed for the respect and awards it deserves, despite being such a powerful force in American and international popular culture. "With its gesture toward hip-hop, the Songwriters Hall of Fame follows the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in beginning to acknowledge a genre that has long transcended upstart — or flash-in-the-pan — status and has become a dominant mode in modern popular music (New York Times)."

Congratulations to Jay Z, whose win represents a community effort to continue to push boundaries and do cultural backflips throughout the status quo.


Jaylin PaschalComment