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Kendrick Lamar Reveals Eazy-E’s Influence on His Career in Heartfelt Tribute

Jemal Countess, Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd., Ron Galella Collection
Jemal Countess, Getty Images / Ron Galella, Ltd., Ron Galella Collection

If you’re familiar with Kendrick Lamar’s music, you can easily hear the influence of West Coast hip-hop in his songs. Last month, the Compton rapper penned a tribute to his idol, the late rapper Tupac Shakur, on the 19th anniversary of his death. Now K. Dot is paying homage to another rap legend, the late Eazy-E.

For Paper magazine’s October “Nowstalgia” issue, Kendrick explains how the founding N.W.A. member influenced him growing up in Compton, Calif. The “Alright” rhymer recalls seeing Eazy for the first time while watching television. “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,” he writes. “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.”

He also acknowledges that it was Eazy-E who shaped his vision and voice in rap.

“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 reveals. “He’s 100 percent 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.”

The TDE rapper also saluted Eazy for changing the musical landscape with his voice and sound.

“Because before then, everything was pop. People were scared to talk about these kinds of tough situations, but because he and the group took it upon themselves to talk about [these things], every artist is able to and they owe it to him,” the To Pimp a Butterfly creator shares. “He’s not only the birth of gangsta rap, but he’s the birth of a whole legacy of being able to say what you want to say on a record and not being in fear of what others may think and not offending your own art and your own reflection.”

“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,” he concludes.

True indeed.

Kendrick Lamar’s tribute to Eazy-E will be followed by two more artists honoring deceased rap legends in Paper. Eminem will write a tribute about his idol 2Pac and Swizz Beatz will pen a remembrance for Notorious B.I.G.

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