This morning N.W.A. was announced as a 2016 inductee (coverage by Rolling Stone) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In case you are not familiar, N.W.A. (the name stands for "Niggaz Wit Attitudes") was a seminal West Coast gangsta rap group in the late 80s, whose debut album Straight Outta Compton went triple platinum and reshaped the rap genre, signalling the rise of West Coast rap and the rivalry with East Coast. It included the controversial hit "Fuck Tha Police". Founding members of the ensemble included pioneering rapper Easy-E, as well as Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who went on to launch successful solo rap careers and are today household names (Dre is also an executive at Apple, his startup Beats Music having been acquired for $3 billion in 2014, and Ice Cube has parlayed his rap success into a Hollywood actor career). A hit biopic film of the group's history called Straight Outta Compton was released this year and became the highest grossing music biopic ever. A meme based on the promotional poster for the film has been used widely used on the internet, including by President Obama. As far as influence and cultural relevance of musical acts in the genre of rap go, there can be no doubt that N.W.A. is among the top.
However I was surprised, because I thought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was for acts in the Rock and Roll genre, whereas N.W.A. is a rap act. It'd be one thing if it were one of the "rap/rock" crossover acts, but N.W.A. is pure gangsta rap, not near any genre intersection. Why would they be included in a list of influential Rock and Roll acts?
The Rolling Stone piece doesn't address the issue, except to say that they're the fifth rap act to be inducted. The first was Grandmaster Flash in 2007. The Wikipedia article for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn't really go into it either, except to say that Fox News ginned up controversy over irregularities in the 2007 induction, making the case that the vote was fixed. But the question of whether the act should've been eligible for consideration at all is not mentioned.
I hope this goes without saying, but let me add that I can see how this may be construed as a controversial or racially divisive question. I do not intend it to be so, and any such implications should be construed as ignorance on my part, not intentional race-baiting. I would be similarly confused if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame started inducting Country/Western or Gospel acts, or if the Hip Hop Hall of Fame inducted a purely rock act, without any implied judgment about the relative merits of one genre over another.