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Tupac, Pearl Jam in running for Rock Hall of Fame



Slain rap legend Tupac Shakur and emblematic grunge-era rockers Pearl Jam were nominated Tuesday to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in a field that includes Depeche Mode and Joan Baez.

Of the 19 acts in running for induction in 2017, Pearl Jam and Tupac were the only ones who were eligible this year for the first time.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which will announce the winners in December, is open to artists who released their first single or album at least 25 years ago.

Tupac, who was gunned down in Las Vegas in 1996, remains one of the top artists in the hip-hop canon, winning a global following with his lyrical directness and dramatic flair.

Pearl Jam, still active with a loyal fan base, emerged as one of the biggest forces in the US alternative music boom of the early 1990s, bringing frontman Eddie Vedder’s raw edge to classic rock.

Pearl Jam also made headlines for its activism, with Vedder upfront about his left-leaning politics and the band boycotting ticket giant Ticketmaster over charges passed on to customers.

Nirvana, the fellow Seattle grunge rockers often seen as Pearl Jam’s rivals with an angrier, more anguished sound, were inducted in 2014, which was Nirvana’s first year of eligibility.

Tupac’s nomination came a year after the Hall of Fame added N.W.A., fellow gangsta rappers from the Los Angeles area known for their loaded denunciations of police brutality.

Janet Jackson, the pop superstar and sister of late king of pop Michael Jackson, was in the running for the second straight year.

Other repeat nominees included “queen of funk” Chaka Khan; The Cars, who defined the New Wave sound of classic pop melodies and synthesizers; and Chic, the disco titans led by prolific producer Nile Rodgers who have been nominated a record 11 times without winning.

– Icons of folk, synthpop –
In addition to Pearl Jam and Tupac, seven acts were nominated for the first time — Baez, Bad Brains, Depeche Mode, Electric Light Orchestra, Jane’s Addiction, Journey and Steppenwolf.

Depeche Mode straddled mainstream and underground audiences in the 1980s with a string of synthpop hits.

Keyboardist and principal songwriter Martin Gore, speaking to AFP last week to announce Depeche Mode’s latest album, said that the English band “helped to make electronic music acceptable.”

Baez is one of the most recognizable US folk singers, an early voice of 1960s counterculture who has steadfastly fought for causes including the environment and non-violence.

She is a close associate of Bob Dylan, another folk icon who was inducted in 1988 and last week was the surprise winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Jane’s Addiction, like Pearl Jam, was a leader of the alternative rock era but the Los Angeles band was much darker, with heavy-edged tracks that referenced serial killers and deviant sex.

Frontman Perry Farrell helped bring alternative culture into the mainstream by creating Lollapalooza, envisioned as a traveling counterculture festival but now held each year in Chicago and internationally.

– First nod for hardcore –
Bad Brains would be the first act in the Hall of Fame from the hardcore scene, the aggressive and proudly non-commercial punk movement that emerged in the United States in the 1980s.

Washington-based Bad Brains were a rare African American group in punk and eventually shifted to reggae after embracing Rastafarianism.

Bluesy rockers Steppenwolf are most identified with the high-octane 1968 motorcycle theme “Born to Be Wild,” which coined the term “heavy metal.”

Electric Light Orchestra is the most experimental of the new nominees, incorporating symphonic structures and science fiction themes, while Journey is a favorite of US mainstream radio and sports arenas with “Don’t Stop Believin'” and other guitar anthems.

The other repeat nominees are “Centerfold” rockers The J. Geils Band, late soul singer Joe Tex, German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, left-wing Detroit rockers MC5, British Invasion-era group The Zombies and art rockers Yes.

The Hall of Fame will survey more than 800 music industry experts and add one ballot for fans, who can vote online through December 5.

For the second successive year, the Cleveland-based institution will hold its induction ceremony in New York, with winners to appear at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in April.

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