Kendrick Lamar Says He Would Not Be Here Today If It Was Not For Eazy-E
Over the years, much has been made of Kendrick Lamar’s affinity for Tupac Shakur. The Compton MC often has discussed the impact seeing Dr. Dre and Pac filming the video for “California Love” had on him as a young child, and he even constructed an intricate “conversation” between Tupac and himself on “Mortal Man,” the closing song on his To Pimp a Butterfly LP. Like all people, however, Kendrick’s early influences are varied, and he has written a piece for Paper magazine in tribute to one of his biggest: Eazy-E. Kendrick’s article is one of 3 the magazine will feature where current artists celebrate icons, including Eminem writing about Tupac and Swizz Beatz penning his thoughts on The Notorious B.I.G.
Kendrick, who recently had the enviable opportunity to interview all 4 remaining members of N.W.A., wrote about the group’s influence on him as a youth, in the piece:
“My pops would play N.W.A. records all day, every day; my uncles would play it. My older cousins would play it. And I would go outside and see the same imagery in my reality as the things they were talking about on the record. 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. Looking at them and sitting inside my community, it left a big toll on me because it always let me know that no matter how far I go, I gotta stay in reach of the people and what’s going on in the neighborhood, whether it’s a harsh reality or not.”
Kendrick also discussed the paradigm-shifting impact of Eazy, with the raw honesty of his raps. “What made Eazy special was that he was telling a different type of truth, a truth that wasn’t heard in music yet,” wrote K. Dot. He expanded on the import of the freedom that came with that authenticity and the doors it opened for future artists, including himself:
“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.”
#bonusbeat: Here’s a look back at Kendrick Lamar discussing his earliest experiences with Hip-Hop.