Kendrick Lamar (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for BET) and Eazy-E (File photo)

Kendrick Lamar has long acknowledged legendary rap group and fellow Compton natives, N.W.A., as inspiring trailblazers. The 28-year-old wrote an essay, explaining his thoughts on the debt he owes N.W.A., and the late Eazy-E in particular.

According to Complex, the essay was written as part of a feature in Paper Magazine that allows artists to share their feelings about how their icons helped shape and inspire them.

Lamar wrote, in part:

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.

Read the whole essay on Paper Magazine.