By Brian Ives
One of the fun aspects of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is trying to predict who will present the inductees. While some of the presenters of this year’s ceremony have already been announced, we have yet to hear who will do the speech in honor of Tupac Shakur, one of hip-hop’s beloved icons.
We decided to make a few educated guesses, drawing from his friends, collaborators, and disciples. Here’s who we think makes deserves to take the stand to speak about the man. Perhaps one (or some) of these artists will take the stage at the event to perform a ‘Pac song or two.
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg: Tupac was a star pretty much from the first moment he exploded onto the hip-hop scene with his 1991 solo debut 2Pacalypse Now, but when he signed to Death Row Records, he became one of the biggest stars in popular music. Dre and Snoop were the label’s other big artists at the time, and they both appeared his first Death Row release, the 1996 double album opus All Eyez on Me. Dre produced “California Love” and “Can’t C Me,” while Snoop guested on “2 of Americaz Most Wanted” and “All Bout U.”
Nas: The Queens MC beefed with Tupac, but they reconciled at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. In 2002, Nas was a featured guest on ‘Pac’s posthumous track “Thugz Mansion.” Two years later, he paid tribute to Tupac at the 2004 VH1 Hip-Hop Honors event, performing “Keep Ya Head Up,” saying from the stage, “Rest in peace, brother.”
Shock G: Digital Underground gave Tupac got his first break, giving him a verse on 1991’s “Same Song,” and Shock G and Money B guested on ‘Pac’s breakout single, 1993’s “I Get Around.” Shock G knew him before he was a star, and watched him become one of the most celebrated MCs in hip-hop.
Ice-T: Ice-T, like Tupac, was an east coast guy who relocated to the west and became a gangsta rap legend, later moving into acting. Ice did it first, and he might reasonably ask why he hasn’t been inducted into the Rock Hall yet. But there’s always next year, and Ice probably has a unique perspective on Tupac. He also collaborated with ‘Pac on 1993’s “Last Wordz.”
Eminem: Em was such a fan that he wrote a letter to Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur, explaining that he was a huge fan and that he wanted to produce a posthumous Tupac album. She said yes, and the album was 2004’s Loyal to the Game. The album debuted at number one and has since been certified platinum. Clearly, Marshall Mathers has love and respect for ‘Pac, and would likely do a great speech; he did a great one a few years back when he presented Run-D.M.C. at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Janet Jackson: She was his co-star in one of his biggest films, 1993’s Poetic Justice. She might be annoyed, though, about not being inducted herself; she was on the ballot this year. Like Ice-T, there’s always next year for her, and she would surely have some unique ‘Pac stories.
Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole: Kendrick made a great speech at last year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony presenting N.W.A. and it’d be great to hear what he’d have to say about Tupac. But it would be an amazing moment to see him and J. Cole — two of the best MCs of this era, and both guys who know a bit about being competitive — wax poetic on Shakur’s influence on them.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place April 7, 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Radio.com will provide full coverage of the event.