I pretty much always have to justify my love of Jay Z.

It seems that a lot of people, even — and sometimes especially — rap fans, consider him to be a sellout at best or overrated at worst.

They’ll point out the less-than-stellar “Kingdom Come” as an example. Or cite “Collision Course,” his admittedly unfortunate collaboration with Linkin Park.

And, yes, missteps have been made. But in a career that spans decades, that’s undoubtedly going to happen.

He is, however, responsible for at least three classic hip-hop records: 1996’s “Reasonable Doubt,” 2001’s “The Blueprint” and 2003’s “The Black Album.” And, I would argue (and have, a lot) that it’s his emphasis on smooth flow and clever wordplay that make these albums, as well as less-lauded efforts like “American Gangster” and “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1” stand out.

Happily, I’m getting some ammo for that assertion, as the Associated Press reports that “Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame when he enters the prestigious organization in June.”

Only five songwriters, or songwriting groups, are inducted each year, and they must have written hits for 20 years.

He’ll join the likes of Chuck Berry, Marvin Hamlisch, Carole King, Queen, Willie Nelson, Paul McCartney and Otis Redding, among a slew of other industry heavyweights.

And, while that’s my favorite of the entertainment news I’ve come across lately, there are some other headlines that caught my eye:

Walt Whitman work discovered

Thanks to the detective work of one graduate student, an original copy of a novella by the famed “Leaves of Grass” author has been unearthed after 165 years.

The New York Times reports that Zachary Turpin found the “Life and Adventures of Jack Engle” at the Library of Congress after searching an online database for names found in Whitman’s notebooks.

It centers around an orphan who must make his way in New York and was published anonymously in 1852 in a New York newspaper, The Sunday Dispatch.

It’s now available online at http://ir.uiowa.edu/wwqr/vol34/iss3/3/. The University of Iowa Press is also releasing the story in book form.

At the Drive-In to debut new record

After 17 years, At The Drive-In will release a new album, “in•ter a•li•a,” on May 5. Along with the announcement, the post-hardcore band released a song from the upcoming record, “Incurably Innocent,” about sexual abuse.

This comes after the group released a free single in December, “Governed by Contagions.”

The new album will include 11 tracks, which were co-produced by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and record producer Rich Costey. You can pre-order it on the band’s website, atthedriveinmusic.com.

Lindsey Fleming is a writer/copy editor for The Dominion Post. Email her at lfleming@dominionpost.com.