Between the biopic Straight Outta Compton and Dr. Dre’s new album Compton, N.W.A. is enjoying a healthy resurgence this year. For its latest cover, Billboard recruited Kendrick Lamar—the Compton native who vets including Dre and Snoop Dogg have designated the current king of West Coast hip-hop—to interview the iconic rap group.
“I’m tripping right now. Man, I’m bugging,” Lamar says at the start of the wide-ranging conversation, which covers the band’s legacy, the trappings of the music business, and more. “As one of your offspring, anything I do comes from what y’all have done before me.”
“We have a bond that you can’t buy or manufacture,” says Ice Cube, alluding to the group’s spats over the years. “We loot at each other and know what we went through to get here.” In that vein, all the N.W.A. members discuss how they learned to separate their business from their personal lives. “I protect my family and keep them away from the bulls–t,” Dre says. Adds MC Ren: “I keep the two separate. There are too many fakes in the game, and I try to keep my family away from that.”
The group also discusses how the current MCs they like, including Lamar—”I’m not saying this because you’re here,” MC Ren says—and Pusha T. But they add a cautionary comment for this generation of rappers. “When we started out, it wasn’t for money,” Dre says. “It was for the love of music. … If your only aim is money, your time will be limited.”
Head over to Billboard to for a full transcript of the interview, and photos from N.W.A.’s cover shoot with Lamar.