Johnny Rotten, lead singer of one of the most influential and infamous punk groups in history, The Sex Pistols, is no stranger to controversy. He’s made his name through media manipulation and the provocation of other celebrities. It’s worked as he has remained in the spotlight, mainly in his native Britain, for over thirty years despite his lack of commercial success. Rotten, born and often referred to as John Lydon, has recently reunited with his critically revered post-punk group Public Image Ltd. and published a memoir. The book was nominated for an NME Shockwave award where it is competing against Jay-Z’s Decoded, which is how the punk rock elder statesmen came to be asked about his opinion of the rap superstar.
His comments were less than complimentary. Speaking with NME Rotten had this to say about the BK emcee, “Come on! I’m afraid what he does is parody to me. Jay-Z’s just nonsense. I’ve never met him, but twice I’ve had to play a stage opposite when he was on. One was in Coachella and one was in Poland, and both times I pulled an enormous crowd away from him. He certainly must have noticed.”
Now before anyone starts calling Rotten an out of touch old man who has no clue when it comes to Hip Hop a little historical context is in order. Rotten actually collaborated with rap godfather Afrika Bambaataa and his band Time Control in 1984 on the absolutely classic single “World Destruction.” That was two years before Run DMC and Aerosmith released “Walk This Way.” With that in mind it’s probably better to look at Rotten’s comments as an expression of personal taste or simply an attempt to stir up some controversy and not as an indication that the man dislikes rap music.