Kendrick Lamar is a revered lyricist in hip-hop culture, and it is not for no reason. As hip-hop has seen a focus shift from lyricism to beats, Lamar has remained dedicated to blessing his listeners with both remarkable instrumentals and high-quality lyrics.
Lamar is undoubtedly the most renowned rapper concerning contemporary West Coast artists. That said, his California predecessors greatly impacted him, and in an interview with PAPER magazine, the Compton lyricist unveiled that he adored N.W.A. growing up and recalled seeing the video for ‘We Want Eazy’ as a kid and being inspired by Eazy-E’s persona.
Opening up about when he saw the video, Lamar stated, “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.”
He continued, “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 neighbourhood in Compton.” As a native of LA’s inner city projects, Lamar has previously revealed that he once saw Dr Dre and 2Pac recording the ‘California Love (remix)’ music video.
The DAMN musician expressed how he didn’t fully understand the metaphor of breaking out of jail onto a stage until he achieved fame, admitting, “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.”
He continued, “Coming from this small neighbourhood 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.”
As a fan of N.W.A., it came as a shock to Lamar in 2015 when he got to interview the remaining members of N.W.A., including his collaborator Dr Dre as well as Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren. You can watch the video for ‘We Want Eazy’ below.