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Gene Simmons and Ice Cube continue to argue over the definition of rock n roll

By | Published on Tuesday 12 April 2016


And so this story rumbles on. Ice Cube and Gene Simmons continue to argue over what constitutes ‘rock n roll’, after NWA were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame at the weekend.

As previously reported, MC Ren and Ice Cube both addressed Simmons’ dislike of rap and hip hop in their acceptance speech, the Kiss bassist having predicted its death within the next decade in a recent interview. Simmons responded by tweeting “let me know when Jimi Hendrix gets into the hip hop hall of fame”.

Which seems like a fundamental misunderstanding of several things. Not least the fact that Jimi Hendrix died before hip hop was invented, and NWA have a very clear through line to rock n roll. (Dear Kiss fans: This is the joke yesterday’s headline was making. Please don’t all write in again and explain at length that Gene Simmons knows who Jimi Hendrix is).

This point was made pretty clearly by Ice Cube in his acceptance speech at the Hall Of Fame. “Rock n roll is not an instrument, rock n roll is not even a style of music. Rock n roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit. It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock n roll, heavy metal, punk rock and yes, hip hop”.

In a more blunt tweet in response to Simmons’s Jimi Hendrix quote, Ice Cube then wrote: “Who stole the soul? Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Chubby Checker helped invent rock n roll. We invent it. Y’all reprint it”.

He then pointed Simmons to the relevant part of his acceptance speech. To which Simmons replied: “Cube – I stand by my words. Respect NWA, but when Led Zep gets into [the] Rap Hall Of Fame, I will agree with your point”.

So only when Led Zeppelin are recognised as a group of rappers, will Gene Simmons accept that ‘rock n roll’ is a difficult to define spirit of rebellion that runs throughout popular musical history? That doesn’t seem very fair. How about we all just agree that the labels we place on things are irrelevant and arguing about what fits where is a waste of effort?