Kendrick photo by Jessica Lehrman; Eazy-E photo from Facebook
This year, Kendrick Lamar has acknowledged his influences by interviewing Quincy Jones and the surviving members of N.W.A, and writing a short note about 2Pac on his website. (An archival interview with 2Pac appears at the end of To Pimp a Butterfly, too.) He’s now paid similar tribute to Eazy-E for Paper, where he spoke about the late rapper’s influence on his childhood and his career. Read the whole tribute here, and find some excerpts below.
“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,” Kendrick said in conversation with Paper. “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.”
On the first time he encountered Eazy’s music without realizing they were both from Compton:
I remember when I was five or six years old, waking up one morning and seeing this guy bust through the TV screen, rapping over some song called “We Want Eazy” — I think the concept of the video was that he was actually in jail and he had to get to his show and the only way to get to his concert was to film him from jail, and he eventually busted through the jail and came onstage. I remember looking at that video and just feeling like, “Man, this dude feels like an action superhero.” Little did I know, Eazy-E came from my same neighborhood in Compton.
On how he didn’t fully understand N.W.A’s global appeal until his own recording career took off:
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.
Read “On Kendrick Lamar and Black Humanity” at the Pitch.
Read Jeff Weiss’ look at Eazy-E’s It’s on (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa.
Watch Lamar perform “Fuck Your Ethnicity” at Pitchfork Music Festival:
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