As the resurgence of the story of N.W.A. continues to flood pop culture, one rapper from Compton continues to pay homage. In Paper magazine’s “Nowstalgia” issue, Kendrick Lamar reflected on the the impact of the group’s frontman, Eazy-E. Recalling his earliest memories of hearing classics such as “We Want Eazy,” K. Dot expressed gratefulness to Eazy-E for bringing a new perspective to the mainstream.
“From the way these guys talked to the way they carried themselves to the type of activities that they were involved in, the whole thing was a real life introspective report from the ghetto,” he said.
Regarding Eazy-E and N.W.A. as the pioneers that brought real-life stories to rap, Kendrick pinpointed a moment when he placed himself in the group’s shoes. After the release of his good kid, m.A.A.d. city album, K. Dot revealed he felt what it must have been like for Eazy, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella; their Compton neighborhood had reached a widespread stage. For Kendrick, “He’ll always live forever, not only 50 years from now but a thousand years from now. His name will always be in people’s hearts because he gave people the opportunity and the voice to say what they want and how they feel.”
Read an excerpt from Kendrick Lamar reflection on Eazy-E below. Peep the full Paper feature here.
What made Eazy special was that he was telling a different type of truth, a truth that wasn’t heard in music yet. Before them, rap was fun — you had your battles and whatnot, but this time around, when it came to what Eazy wanted to do, being a visionary, he had the idea of speaking the honest truth, and I think it really resonated with a lot of people because it was the shock value of, “Okay, these guys are really standing out and focused on telling their reality, no matter how pissed off you get by it.” And it got interest from people. People actually wanted to hear it and wanted to know what was going on.
But as a kid, I really couldn’t grasp the idea that the world knew about what we’re going through in my neighborhood. I didn’t get that idea until my debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, came out and that’s when I truly understood how N.W.A. felt, coming from this small neighborhood but going all the way around the world and seeing these people singing these words lyric-for-lyric and understanding the trials and tribulations that are going on in the community. I understand how they feel now. It’s an inspiring thing. Once I got the idea that people are actually listening, it made me want to continue making music more.
I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Eazy and I wouldn’t be able to say the things that I say, talk about my community the way I talk about it, for good or for bad. He’s 100% influenced me in terms of really being not only honest with myself, but honest about where I come from and being proud of where I come from.