On Friday night, the members of N.W.A – Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Yella and the late Eazy-E – joined a handful of rap artists who are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that means a lot to the group. “It means that the group’s mark is kind of solidified,” Ice Cube told Rolling Stone last year. “It’s all legitimized in a way because the whole music industry has to honor the group in a way. It’s just hard to sum up in words.” In another interview, he called making the Hall of Fame “the tip-top.”
After an induction speech by the group’s Compton progeny Kendrick Lamar, N.W.A – who did not perform – took to the mic for the first time to express their gratitude for the honor. Here’s what they told the audience at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center about the recognition.
What’s up Brooklyn? Yeah. What’s up. I want to thank Kendrick Lamar for those beautiful words. Kendrick Lamar is one of the best that ever did it and it’s not a doubt in my mind that he’ll be on this stage one day in the future getting inducted. So yeah, it’s been 30 years, exactly 30 years, since we formed the group N.W.A. Back then, we weren’t thinking about fame or fortune or anything like that. We were just some kids in the studio having fun recording?
And these guys right here are the first people that I had the opportunity to record with before any business was involved. Imagine that. Recording with no business involved. I’m quite sure everybody in the music industry, especially those that make music, understand how precious those times are. Back then, there were a lot of people against us, probably because of what we were saying. I get it. I understand. You know, they weren’t ready for us. The name of our group alone was a shocker. Niggas with Attitudes, you feel me?
But this is proof, this is proof, to all the kids out there, growing up in places like Compton, that anything is possible. Feel me? Me and the guys standing right here? We’re absolutely no different or better than any of you. Feel me. Feel me. You just have to find that thing that’s special about you that distinguishes you from all the others and through true talent, hard work, and passion, anything can happen. Never let them talk about it!
“This is proof to all the kids out there … that anything is possible” – Dr. Dre
One of the first people that believed in me, the first person to invest in my talent, me and this guy used to argue all the time in the studio, but at the end of the day we both realized that we were after the same goal and that was to make great music. And I’m talking about Eazy-E. Make some noise for Eazy-E. I’d like to thank Eric Wright. There is no way that we would be on this stage right now with N.W.A being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame without him. Real talk.
Also would like to thank all the artists that collaborated with me throughout my career. These guys are like my angels. I’m not going to say your names, there’s too many of you guys, but you know who you are. I feel like I made some really great tracks throughout my career, but without their glorious voices, these tracks would be nothing.
I definitely want to thank these guys standing behind me. Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella. Got to thank my brothers for a lifetime of great memories. I’d like to thank my legal team — where are you? Howard King, Peter Paterno, thank you for keeping the snakes off my back. Ashley Palmer, thank you.
Now — I’m not going to take up too much more of your time — I just want to thank all the people that gave me life, changed my life, and saved my life. First, I would like to thank my mother, in my opinion, one of the strongest people on this planet. I’d like to thank her for keeping me on the straight and narrow and not allowing the streets of Compton to swallow me. I’d like to thank the person who changed my life, Jimmy Iovine, real talk. And seriously, my life would not be what it is today without his guidance and advice. And I would like to thank the person that saved my life, really. My wife Nicole. Yeah. It’s a 100 percent fact that I wouldn’t be here without her. Thank you babe, I love you.
And I’d like to finish by saying thank you to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and everybody responsible for inducting us. This is a great honor; I really appreciate it. I’ve always dreamed about this, thank you so much. One love.
First of all, I’d like to thank God, the man that blessed me, that blessed all of us and all of you to be here tonight for this. You know, all the rock & roll groups, everybody! I just want to say thank you God.
I would like to thank Cube, Ren, Dre, and my long-lost buddy Eazy-E. It was very emotional when he passed years ago. He was a great friend, good business partner. He just rung… the light… He had the money, of course, but you know, we did something. Right here there’s a fraternity that nobody can buy in, lie in, cheat their way in. It’s only us and this is for life. The rest of our lives, Eazy-E is here in spirit.
I’d like to thank a couple of women tonight. First of all I’d like to thank Eazy’s mother right here. Come up here. This is my new Mom now. I call her Mom all the time. You ready to go to the casino, Mom? And I’d to thank another Ms. Wright, Tamika Wright. I’d like to thank you very much. I’d like to thank my wife, two and a half years… Take a picture honey. That is my soulmate for the rest of my life.
“Rock & roll is not an instrument … Rock & roll is a spirit.” – Ice Cube
The group broke up 1991, And it’s so crazy… The group was put on pause. 26 years later, Universal woke us up with a movie called Straight Outta Compton. And I’d like to thank all the actors, especially you, O’Shea. All the actors! Corey, Jason, Aldis, and my character, Neil Brown, for doing a wonderful job on the movie. I thank you for that. It was a great movie.
I’d really just like to thank all the fans. Not just the fans that voted for us for years to get here, but the fans, not even the new fans that just seen the movie and became fans all over the world, but all the fans. Even the original fans from back in the swap meet at the rodeo with Steve Yano. I want to thank everybody that ever hated us, loved us or liked us. I want to say thank you, God bless you, and thank you Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!
I want to say all prayers is due to God. I want to thank the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I want to thank my group, Dre, Cube, Yella, especially Eazy. Without his vision, we wouldn’t be up here tonight. I want to thank my parents, my wife Yasmin, my kids. I want to thank all the great hip-hop groups that came before us that laid the blueprint. That was the inspiration, a big influence to us and the hip-hop culture. I want to say thank you to them. Thank you to all the fans. And I want to say, to Mr. Gene Simmons, hip-hop is here forever! Get used to it! Get used to it! We supposed to be here!
“Mr. Gene Simmons, hip-hop is here forever! Get used to it!” – MC Ren
This is really very exciting for us, you know. We’re very humbled tonight. We’ve come a long way from being so hated, even in the industry, to making it to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It just shows that if you believe in yourself, believe in what you doing, nobody can stop you. You can only stop yourself, and that’s what got us here, and I’m very grateful and humble tonight.
I’d like to thank my parents, Doris Mosie Jackson, my brothers and sisters, Clyde, Pat, Sophie, for putting up with them turntables and speakers and all that damn noise we was making. I’d like to thank my lovely wife, Kimberly. Who’s been there since day one, through the thick, the thin, and the thick again. And my kids. Darrell, O’Shea, Jr., Karima, and Sharif. Thank you for putting up with this crazy life of mine in entertainment. This crazy schedule. You guys make everything normal for me. You guys make everything normal and I love y’all for that.
Hey, you don’t make it to the Hall by yourself. I’d like to thank Sir Jinx for teaching me how to rap on beat. [Laughs] I’d like to thank Pat Charbonnet, my first manager, who told me to watch out for Jerry Heller’s ass. I’d like to thank Michael Ashburn, who also helped me through that time. I’d like to thank Lee Young, who’s been with me, it seems like my whole career, and he’s walked me through this crazy business. I’d like to thank people like Donovan Smith. I’d like to thank people like Bryan Turner, Mark, Big Bass Brian and these guys back here, man.
Starting with Dr. Dre. Man, thank you so much, Dre. I wouldn’t be here without you at all. And thank you for believing in a 15-year-old B-boy, letting me ditch school and hanging out with you and make music. Stay in school kids, goddamnit.
MC Ren, who’s always a ruthless villain. He’s our temperament in N.W.A, he’s our conscience. He keeps us on track.
DJ Yella, man, thank you, man. He kept it fun, as you can see. DJ Yella kept it fun. Even when the whole world seemed like it was against us, DJ Yella was just like, “Fuck that, where the party at?” I love you for that.
I want to thank D.O.C. He’s a member of N.W.A too because he helped write a lot of lyrics, and know Ice Cube gets a lot of the credit, but it was a team effort with me, Ren, DOC, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and so I want to acknowledge D.O.C. for being down for so long. I wish he was here.
Yo, and to the man. The man. The late great, often-imitated, but never duplicated Eazy motherfucking E. This is his vision. He wanted us to be honest, he wanted us to be truthful, say what we feel. He didn’t care if we got any record play. He didn’t even care if we got signed to a major label. All he cared about was for our story to be recognized and heard. So 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. So we going to miss Eazy-E and we’re grateful to his family for allowing us to do the Straight Outta Compton movie. We just all feel blessed for Eazy-E’s life, and I hope we all remember him forever.
Now, the question is, are we rock & roll? And I say you goddamn right we rock & roll. Rock & roll is not an instrument, rock & roll is not even a style of music. Rock & roll is a spirit. It’s a spirit. It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock & roll, heavy metal, punk rock and yes, hip-hop. And what connects us all is that spirit. That’s what connects us all, that spirit. Rock & roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life. That is rock & roll, and that is us.
So rock & roll is not conforming. Rock & roll is outside the box. And rock & roll is N.W.A. I want to thank everybody who helped induct us into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and I just want to tell the world, “Damn, that shit was dope.”