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Scott Ian On Public Enemy’s Rock Hall Induction: ‘They Absolutely Deserve It’

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Public Enemy and Scott Ian at 2007's Rock the Bells. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Public Enemy and Scott Ian at 2007’s Rock the Bells. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

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This week, iconic hip-hop group Public Enemy will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, alongside classic rock acts Rush and Heart and singer-songwriter Randy Newman, among others. And while they aren’t the first artist from that genre to be inducted – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. and The Beastie Boys are all Hall Of Famers – there are still people who don’t feel hip-hop belongs in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Anthrax‘s Scott Ian, however, isn’t among them.

A true champion of heavy metal, Ian’s band Anthrax is among the “Big Four” of thrash (along with Slayer, Megadeth and Hall of Famers Metallica). His band also has a serious jones for classic rock: their new EP, Anthems, sees them covering classic rock songs by Boston, Journey, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and Rush. But Ian doesn’t have the bias against hip-hop that perhaps some of his peers might.

“Hip-hop for me – or let’s call it ‘rap,’ that’s what I called it – from, say, 1981 to 1993, I was into that as I was into any other kind of music,” he tells Radio.com.

Indeed, Anthrax experimented with rap on their 1987 track “I’m The Man,” which was something of a novelty. A few years later, in 1991, they collaborated with Public Enemy on a thrash metal update of PE’s “Bring The Noise.” And while some cross-genre collaborations reek of marketing department experiments, this was a collaboration that was prompted by Ian.

“In 1986, ’87 and ’88, Public Enemy was my favorite band on the planet,” he said. “They changed music. [Their 1987 album] It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, I compare that album to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Guns ‘N Roses’ Appetite For Destruction or Led Zeppelin’s “IV.” It you make a list of albums that changed the world, that changed the way we hear music, that album has to be on that list. It was so mind-blowingly sonically different from anything that anyone had ever heard. It was lyrically so strong. And scary – in a good way. I used to think that it was a great thing that people were afraid of Public Enemy. A band could actually make people afraid! That’s incredible that they could evoke that kind of emotion.”

But like all hard rock fans, Ian is still rankled that many of the biggest bands of the genre have yet to be inducted. He previously told us that the Rock Hall’s perpetual snub of KISS is “pretty f***ing lame when you consider what they’ve accomplished.”

“At the same time, I will agree: Do they deserve to be in before KISS and Deep Purple?” Ian said. “No. I don’t think Chuck D would argue that point, if he was asked.”

He continued: “But they absolutely deserve to be in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I’m happy for Chuck and [Flavor] Flav, they’re two of my favorite artists and favorite people, and I love working with them. So yeah, I’m stoked for them.”

Public Enemy – including their original DJ, Terminator X – is scheduled to appear at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony Thursday night (April 18) at the Nokia Theatre L.A.Live in Los Angeles. Radio.com will provide full coverage of the show throughout the night.

Watch our recent Radio.com Inside Out episode on this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class, below.

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