Kendrick Lamar has payed tribute to the late and great Eazy-E, former member of N.W.A. (the surviving members of which Kendrick recently interviewed) and influential rapper in his own right. In the tribute, written for Paper Magazine, Kendrick goes into how Eazy made an impression on him, going as far to say that he wouldn't be who he is today without the influence of Eazy. Some snippets from the piece follow, beginning with the close, personal and almost familial role that rap – specifically gangsta rap – played in his life, and how it illustrated elements of his everyday experiences unlike anything else.

"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."

He stresses the importance of Eazy-E on his own, as well as other rappers', career trajectory, too:

"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's 100% 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.

"And it's not just me. Artists today wouldn't be able to talk about the things they talk about if it wasn't for Eazy-E and if it wasn't for gangsta rap. Period. You don't even have to be a gangsta rapper, but the fact that you can be able to talk about your community and some of its harsh realities, that comes from none other than Eazy-E, period. Period."

Kendrick's tribute arrives as part of Paper Magazine's "Nowstalgia" October issue, which will also feature Eminem on Tupac and Swizz Beats on Notorious B.I.G. Read the whole thing here.