N.W.A. Are Inducted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame By Kendrick Lamar (Video)
Last night, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, N.W.A. joined Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys and Public Enemy as the only Hip-Hop acts to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After being nominated but passed over in 2014, many saw the Hall of Fame’s actions this year as righting a wrong that was only amplified with the success of the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton. As is customary, N.W.A. chose an artist to induct them and the honor fell to none other than fellow Compton native, Kendrick Lamar.
During Lamar’s 8-minute speech, he spoke about each of DJ Yella, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, individually, and of the collective, he said “the fact that a famous group could look just like one of us, dress just like one of us and talk like one of us proved to every single kid in the ghetto that you could be successful and still have your voice while doing it.” Then, while alluding to a line by Ice Cube in N.W.A.’s “Gangsta, Gansta,” where he shunned being a role model, Kendrick said, “I know each and every one of them said they never wanted to be role models but, the first time I seen Eazy-E bust through that screen out of the jail cell on stage [during] “We Want Eazy,” I felt like each and every one of them was Black superheroes.”
After Kendrick’s introduction, the group took the stage, with Dr. Dre speaking first. Thanking Kendrick, Dre said “Kendrick Lamar is one of the best that ever did it and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’ll be on this stage one day in the future, being inducted.” Dre also echoed Kendrick’s sentiments about the symbolism of the moment saying “this is proof to all the kids out there growing up in places similar to Compton that anything is possible.” He continued along those lines, sincerely stating “me and the guys standing right here, we’re absolutely no different or better than any of you. You just have to find that thing that’s special about you that distinguishes you from all the others, and apply true talent, hard work and passion, and anything can happen.” Dre also spoke about the fallen member of the group, Eazy-E, saying “I’d like to thank Eric Wright. There’s no way that we would be on this stage right now, as N.W.A., being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame without him.” Dre also thanked numerous others, including all the artists he’s worked with, his wife, his legal team, Jimmy Iovine and more.
Next up was DJ Yella who also spoke extensively of Eazy-E, saying “it was very emotional when he passed years ago. He was a great friend, good business partner.” After a few more “thank yous,” Yella turned to Eazy’s mother, who joined the group on stage, thanked her and embraced her for an extended period of time, saying “this is my new mom now.”
The Ruthless Villain, MC Ren, was next to speak. Keeping it short and sweet, he echoed the thanks to Eazy-E and expressed gratitude to his family, N.W.A.’s fans and all of the Hip-Hop groups who came before him. Before ceding the microphone, he also sent a message directly to Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, who recently stirred up controversy by saying he is “looking forward to the death of Rap.” “I want to say to Mr. Gene Simmons ‘Hip-Hop is here forever. Get used to it,” Ren said while chunking his deuces in the air. Dre followed up with an emphatic “We supposed to be here!!”
Last but not least was Ice Cube. As the lead writer of the group, it’s no surprise Cube had the most to say. “We’ve come a long way from being so hated, even in the industry, to making it to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It shows that, if you believe in yourself, believe it what you’re doing, nobody can stop you. You can only stop yourself. That’s what got us here and I’m very humble tonight,” Cube opened. After thanking several people in his family, producer Sir Jinx, and several members of his team and former record company, Cube thanked each of the members of N.W.A., individually, starting with Dre. “Thank you for believing in a 15-year old B-boy, letting me ditch school and hang out with you making music,” he said, before a quick and humorous aside of “stay in school kids, goddamnit.” Of MC Ren, he said “he’s our temperament in N.W.A. He’s our conscience.” Cube called DJ Yella the group’s “fun,” saying “even when the whole world seemed like it was against us, DJ Yella was just like ‘Fuck that! Where tha party at??” Ice Cube was also the only member to mention D.O.C., asserting “he’s a member too, ’cause he helped write a lot of lyrics. I know Ice Cube gets a lot of the credit, but it was a team effort with me, Ren, D.O.C., Dr. Dre, Eazy-E. So, I want to acknowledge D.O.C. for being down for so long.” Saving his words about Eazy-E for last, Cube said “this is his vision. He wanted us to be honest. He wanted us to be truthful. Say what we feel. He didn’t care if we got any record play. He didn’t even care if we got signed to a major label. All he cared about was for our story to be recognized and heard.”
After his words of gratitude, Ice Cube turned to another issue. “Now, the question is ‘are we Rock & Roll?” And, I say, ‘you goddamn right we Rock & Roll!’ Rock & Roll is not an instrument. Rock & Roll is not even a style of music. Rock & Roll is a spirit. It’s been going since the Blues, Jazz, Bebop, Soul, R&B, Rock & Roll, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock and, yes, Hip-Hop! That’s what connects us all, that spirit. Rock & Roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path, in music and in life. That is Rock & Roll and that is us.”