Dave Chappelle officially inducted JAY-Z into the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, while the likes of former POTUS Barack Obama, Beyoncé, and more gave a message for the music icon.
“It is an incredible honor to induct this next man into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But I need everybody in rock n’ roll to know, that even though you are honoring him, he is ours. He is hip-hop. Forever and ever, and a day,” Chappelle said in a snippet of his speech. “We don’t have a complicated, emotional vocabulary. We have to make everything look easy, and this man is a diamond that was born of pressure. To coin a phrase that fellow Hall of Famer made — Tupac Shakur — he called it a rose that grows from the concrete, and that to us is what hip-hop is.”
Meanwhile, Obama expressed his appreciation for Hov’s presence in his personal life and his political career. “I’ve turned to JAY-Z’s words at different points in my life, whether I was brushing dirt off my shoulder on the campaign trail, or sampling his lyrics on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march to Montgomery,” he shared. “Today, JAY-Z is one of the most renowned artists in history and an embodiment of the American dream, a dream he has helped make real for other young people like him.”
The honoree himself dove into his inspirations, thanking the likes of LL Cool J, Biggs Burke and Dame Dash — the latter of whom is currently in a legal battle with Roc-A-Fella Records. “I would watch these guys, and you know they had big rope chains, and they wore leather, and sometimes even the red-black-green medallions, and whatever they wore, everybody would wear the next day. And I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be like those guys.’ And so I set out on my journey, writing at my table. Shout out to Dr. Gloria Carter in the house, she bought me the green notebook,” he said.
JAY-Z added, “We was like we gonna create our own company, you know? That’s hip-hop. And we created this company called Roc-A-Fella Records.” He continued, “Shout out to Dame [Dash]; I know we don’t see eye to eye, but I can never erase your accomplishments, and I appreciate you and thank you for that. And shout out to [Kareem] ‘Biggs’ [Burke]; he’s one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met. We created something that will probably never be duplicated.”