From the streets of Compton to the Rock Hall, N.W.A continues to make history. The legendary rap crew was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday (Apr. 8).
All living members of the group, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, and MC Ren, as well as Eazy-E’s mother, were on hand for the induction ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which was filled with compelling moments, including a poignant speech from Ice Cube about why the “World’s Most Dangerous Group” belongs in the Rock Hall despite what naysayers like Gene Simmons say.
“Are we rock and roll?” Cube asked. “I say, you goddamn right we rock and roll. Rock and roll is not an instrument. Rock and roll is not even a style of music. Rock and roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit that’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock and roll, heavy metal, punk rock, and yes, hip-hop. What connects us all is that spirit. Rock and roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life. That is rock and roll and that is us.”
As promised, Kendrick Lamar was also on hand to welcome the group to the legendary Hall. The Compton MC, who’s worked closely with Dr. Dre throughout his career, explained how N.W.A redefined the term “gangster.”
“Being gangster symbolizes a hustle that you can change your reality,” explained K-Dot. “The true meaning of gangster, 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 movie producer, and having your own son play you as a retrospect to your career, Straight Outta Compton.
“Being gangster changed the way people listened to music,” he continued. “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, you dig? 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 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
The 31st Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which also includes Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Chicago, Steve Miller, and Bert Berns, will air April 30 on HBO.
Watch Kendrick’s introduction and see more highlights from N.W.A’s speeches below.
MC Ren on hip-hop history: “I want to thank all the great hip-hop groups that came before us and laid the blueprint. That was inspirational and a big influence to us and the hip-hop culture…And I want to say to Mr. Gene Simmons, hip-hop is here forever. Get used to it.”
Dr. Dre on N.W.A’s impact: “This is proof to all the kids out there, growing up in places similar to Compton, that anything is possible…This is a great honor. I really appreciate it. I’ve always dreamed about this. Thank you so much.”
Ice Cube on Eazy-E: “We love Eazy. We miss him. I think about him all the time because he was such a smart businessman and he knew the pulse of the people. We gon’ miss Eazy-E…I hope we all remember him forever.”
DJ Yella on N.W.A’s bond: “Right here is a fraternity that nobody can buy in, lie in, or cheat their way in. It’s only us and it’s for life, for the rest of our lives. Eazy-E is here in spirit.”