Kendrick Lamar is by far one of the biggest rappers to come straight outta Compton since the G-funk era. So, it’s no surprise the “m.a.a.d city” rapper would be on deck to pay homage to hometown heroes N.W.A as the pioneering gangsta-rap group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, held on Friday, April 8, Lamar spoke out about the influence members Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella have had on his career-hip hop overall. Among the highlights of Lamar’s introduction:
“This dude here taught me a lot, as far as never being satisfied with the work you do, on and off the record. … No. 2, make sure you take care of your music and your family each and every single day. I never forget those words. Since the first day meeting me, you always gave me the energy, saying ‘Superstar!’ You never called me Kendrick Lamar. That gave me the belief in what I was doing and also gave me the energy of knowing I was doing it right. I appreciate you for that,” Lamar said of his longtime mentor, Dr. Dre.
Adding that Ice Cube is a “Storytelling genius. Every bar had us hanging over our seats. Every punchline, delivery [and] detailed imagery made you get just a small glimpse of how it was growing up in the city of Compton. Cube was always proving to be one of the greatest MCs to ever step behind the mic, and on a personal level, my debut album [Good Kid, M.A.A.D City], you was [sic] the blueprint on how I went to approach it.”
Lamar went on to pay tribute to the late Eazy-E, saying, “He was a true mastermind. A businessman, an incredible entertainer. His persona was unmatched. His confidence spoke with abundance. His high-pitched tone spoke to nations around the world. There was no better voice to put across than Eazy-E. He is the gatekeeper of reality rap. He’s the reason why I’m proud to stand on this stage and rep Compton.”
As for N.W.A’s impact on hip-hop, the 28-year-old declared, “Chuck D once said rap and hip-hop was [sic] the black CNN. N.W.A represents that to the fullest, am I right? Bringing inner-city life to the forefront and making the world pay attention to our realities. …The impression was just that they’re trying to kill people. To be very clear: The fact that a famous group can look just like one of us, dress like one of us and talk like one of us proved to every single kid in the ghetto that you can be successful and still have importance while doing it. That was N.W.A. That was their true message.
“I know each and every one of them said they never wanted to be role models, but look: The first time I see Eazy bust through that screen out the jail cell on stage on ‘We Want Eazy,’ I felt like every single one of them was [sic] Black superheroes where I come from.”
In true hip-hop fashion, Lamar concluded with some remarks on what it means to be “gangster.”
“As you know the history, a lot of people said [N.W.A’s music] was too gangster. It was too much for them. But for me, it was honest. So I’m going to put it like this: Being gangster symbolizes a hustle that you can change your reality. The true meaning of gangster [is] being able to show what it takes to be the world’s biggest music group. Being gangster is forming iconic labels: Ruthless Records, Death Row, Aftermath Records. Being gangster is breaking out to become a movie star, a producer, and having your own son play you in a retrospect[ive] to your career, Straight Outta Compton.
“Being gangster changed the way people listened to music: being so obsessed with sound that you create your own headphones and force people and fans around the world to listen to deep, intricate sounds the way you outta hear. Being gangster is partnering with the biggest tech companies and launching groundbreaking music on a whole other platform. So now after 30 years of being heard, being gangster is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
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