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Jay-Z's Star Shines Brightest at Star-Studded Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony

Saturday the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed one of its most diverse and talented classes, but one star shone brighter than the rest at the star-studded ceremony.

That Class of 2021 standout was Jay-Z. The 23-time Grammy winner and one-half of music's reigning premiere power couple, along with wife Beyoncé, was feted by friends, fellow musicians and a former president as he joined the less than a handful of rappers to be given the honor.

In a video proceeding his induction President Barack Obama shared how important the music of the street hustler, turned musician and finally billionaire business mogul, had been to him personally.
“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,” Obama said. "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 speech, part of a video featuring high praise from numerous other luminaries from the worlds of art, entertainment, music and sport; including LeBron James, David Letterman, Diddy, Chris Martin, Ed Sheeran, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, John Legend along with Jay-Z's wife Beyoncé and daughter Blue Ivy, was followed by an in-person induction by currently controversial comedian Dave Chappelle.

"This is an incredible honor to induct this next man into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame," Chapelle said. "But I need everybody in rock & roll to know that even though we are honoring him, he is ours. He is hip-hop. Forever and ever and a day."

Following Chappelle's speech, Jay-Z delivered the longest of the night, beginning with some words of thanks and an acknowledgment how far hip-hop has come as an art form since the 51-year-old began his own career.
"Thank you, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for this incredible honor. And you know, growing up, we didn't think we could be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We were told that hip-hop was a fad," he said. "Much like punk rock, it gave us this anti-culture, this subgenre, and there were heroes in it."

The artist thanked a long list of family, friends, business partners, artists and others who have enabled and advanced his career. In addition to business partners Damon Dash and Tyran Smith, his mother Gloria, sister Annie and the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. — whom along with fellow 2021 inductee LL Cool J, Tupac and Jay-Z are the only individual rap artists to be enshrined into the hall — before ending his speech on an optimistic note.

"Hopefully, I'm informing the next generation that anything is possible," he said. "I don't know what's next — In fact, I do know what's next. I have to go to court Monday. There's good and bad, life is about balance — But you know, tonight, we're going to enjoy tonight. I appreciate this honor. Sorry for this long-ass speech, but I had to give it up. We did it, Brooklyn!"

While his induction stole the show, it was only a small part of what the hall touted as one of its most diverse classes ever. Tina Turner, Carole King, The Go-Go's, Foo Fighters and Todd Rundgren, were just a few of the big names from across the musical spectrum honored. 

Continue reading below to see a full list of the rest of this year's inductees:

Performer Category:
Tina Turner
Carole King
The Go-Go’s
Foo Fighters
Todd Rundgren

Early Influence Award:
Charley Patton
Gil Scott-Heron

Musical Excellence Award:
LL Cool J
Billy Preston
Randy Rhoads
Ahmet Ertegun Award:
Clarence Avant

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