The Roosevelt, N.Y., group, a rare inductee in its first year of eligibility, was also set to become the first hip-hop act to perform at the annual A-list ceremony, with Foo Fighter Dave Grohl set to induct Rush, Christina Aguilera honoring the late Donna Summer, and Usher set to honor Quincy Jones, who received the Rock Hall’s Ahmet Ertegun Award with Lou Adler. Harry Belafonte and Spike Lee were to induct Public Enemy.
An edited version of the Rock Hall ceremony will air on HBO on May 18.
Public Enemy leader Chuck D. said the honor isn’t just for the group, best known for its politically charged anthems like “Fight the Power” and “Welcome to the Terrordome,” but for the entire hip-hop genre. At a star-studded event early Thursday morning at the House of Blues, where stars ranging from Eddie Murphy to Wayne Brady offered their congratulations, Chuck D. said, “If I could smash the award into 10,000 pieces, I’d give you all a piece.”
He also took time to hand out some awards of his own, paying homage to the groups who had influenced Public Enemy — Kool Moe Dee & The Treacherous Three, Whodini, and J.J. Fad. The show, which will air in June on Centric, also featured unique collaborations, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer DMC and Public Enemy doing “Walk This Way.”
Read more: Newsday