As part of Paper Magazine‘s “Nowstalgia” edition, the magazine has invited rap icons to talk about the impact of lost hip hop legends. With Eminem due to talk about Tupac later this week and Swizz Beatz talking all things Biggie, it was up to Kendrick Lamar to talk about his relationship with the music of iconic rapper Eazy-E. The former N.W.A member, tragically lost at age 31, has received a resurgence in popularity this year with the release of Straight Outta Compton, the biopic that has ignited both the music and film worlds with critical and commercial success.
Kendrick, of course being a Compton native, already impressed us by interviewing the four living members of N.W.A following the release of the film, and now he continues to share how much the collection of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Eazy-E have affected not only his music, but his life.
Kendrick went so far as to say that without Eazy-E “he wouldn’t be here”, and that growing up he “really couldn’t grasp the idea that the world knew about what we’re going through in my neighborhood”. It wasn’t long after, that he discovered N.W.A were talking about the realities of Compton in ways that hadn’t really been done before, and perhaps haven’t been done again until the emergence of Kendrick himself.
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.”
It’s obvious that Kendrick tries to emulate the truthful nature of N.W.A with political and reality-laden tracks littered through good kid, m.A.A.d city as well as in tracks like Alright. I could think of no one better to pen a tribute to Eazy than Kendrick.
As a huge fan of Eazy myself, I’d be remiss now if I didn’t take Kendrick’s lead and pay respect to one of rap’s true legends and pioneers by sharing one of my favourite of his songs.