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This Sept. 23, 2009 file photo shows Rappers Flavor Flav, left, and Chuck D of the music group Public Enemy, perform at the 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York(AP Photo/Peter Kramer, file)

Hip-hop fans have long considered Public Enemy among the genre's true immortals.

Now, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame agrees.

Public Enemy, the groundbreaking outfit led by rapper Chuck D, is arguably the most significant name among the Rock Hall's 2013 inductees, which were announced Tuesday. That's no knock on the other five performance members of this accomplished class: disco queen Donna Summer, prog-rock champions Rush, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, classic rockers Heart and blues giant Albert King.

Rather, it's notable because there has 's been no shortage of public debate as to whether the Rock Hall would -- or should -- recognize hip-hop artists.

The initial answer appears to be yes -- as Public Enemy will be inducted, alongside its other classmates, during the Rock Hall ceremony on April 18 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. It's the first time the induction ceremony will be held on the West Coast. Public Enemy joins Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and the Beastie Boys, two other hip-hops acts already inducted into the Rock Hall.

A big snub

Yet, before hip-hop fans get too giddy about Public Enemy joining the club, it's significant to point out that N.W.A. didn't make this year's cut. That's a bit of a head scratcher, given that the legendary Southern California gangsta rap troupe had such impressive credentials -- having exerted such influence, and introduced so many key players to the game, during its brief career. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next decade or so, as other great hip-hop artists -- from Dr. Dre and Jay-Z to 2Pac and Eminem -- become eligible for consideration.


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To be considered for nomination, an artist must have released its first single or album at least 25 years before the year of nomination. And it's no shoo-in that an act will be nominated that first year. Of course, you don't have to tell that to Rush fans, who have been screaming for the Hall to recognize the Canadian troupe for years. Rush has been eligible for the past 13 years, yet voters have been reluctant thus far to embrace prog-rock acts. The win for Rush, however, could open the doors to other deserving prog/art-rock acts, including Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

A wide net

In all, the Rock Hall's class of 2013 represents an incredibly diverse group. More significant, all six of the inductees are incredibly well deserving. (In addition, producer Lou Adler and the multitalented producer/composer/musician Quincy Jones, perhaps best known for producing Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album, were inducted in the nonperforming category).

Public Enemy changed hip-hop in so many ways with its politically charged and wildly experimental music. Rush has sold more than 40 million records during its career. Newman is one of the most admired, and versatile, songwriters of the last 50 years. Summer, who died earlier this year, was one of the biggest pop stars of the '70s -- and her influence on dance music is still being felt today. Heart produced so much memorable music during the late '70s and early '80s -- and it was among the earliest female-fronted hard rock bands. King, who died in 1992, was one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time.

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.