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Kendrick Lamar Remembers Eazy-E’s Cultural Impact in New Tribute

For 'Paper'

It’s been a busy year for N.W.A in the press, considering the explosively successful debut of the biopic about the band (Straight Outta Compton). Now Kendrick Lamar — he of To Pimp a Butterfly critical devotion — has paid tribute to N.W.A’s Eazy-E in a touching new piece for Paper.

“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,” Lamar writers. “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.”

It’s a truly touching remembrance of a rapper from a modern hip-hop star (one who recently also bowed down to Tupac on the anniversary of his death) that feels both sincere and vitally urgent in 2015. He continues:

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.

Read the entire tribute here.