Since the release of To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar has been on quite the promo run – but not in the traditional sense. True, we’ve received some pretty epic visuals, and he’s made a few guest appearances, but the real gems have been regarding K. Dot’s writing abilities. From interviewing N.W.A. to penning a letter to the late Tupac, the Compton native has been flexing his journalism skills every chance he gets – hell, he even sat down with the legendary Quincy Jones for an in-depth discussion about their generational differences, how their upbringing influenced their music, and the true origins of the global Hip-Hop culture.
Continuing down that journey, PAPER Magazine – which you may remember from Kim Kardashian’s “Break The Internet” shoot – has enlisted Kendrick to pen an essay about the late Eazy-E for their upcoming Nowstalgia issue.
(Eminem and Swizz Beatz will also contribute with thoughts on Tupac and Biggie, respectively.)
Just short of a 1,000 words, Lamar speaks on his first time hearing Eazy, his appreciation for the fallen legend’s honesty, and how he’s been influenced by the O.G. – both in music and in life.
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.
My pops would play N.W.A. records all day, every day; my uncles would play it. My older cousins would play it. And I would go outside and see the same imagery in my reality as the things they were talking about on the record. From the way these guys talked to the way they carried themselves to the type of activities that they were involved in, the whole thing was a real life introspective report from the ghetto. Looking at them and sitting inside my community, it left a big toll on me because it always let me know that no matter how far I go, I gotta stay in reach of the people and what’s going on in the neighborhood, whether it’s a harsh reality or not.
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.” And it got interest from people. People actually wanted to hear it and wanted to know what was going on.
To read the entire piece, head over to PAPER.