Eazy E Digital Biography

Eric Wright, 7 September 1963 (1964 is also cited), Compton, California, USA, d. 26 March 1995, Los Angeles, California, USA. There are those critics who did not take well to Eazy-E’s ‘whine’, but his debut kept up N.W.A.’s momentum by managing to offend just about every imaginable faction, right and left. Attending a fund-raising dinner for the Republican Party and having lunch with police officer Tim Coon, one of the LAPD’s finest charged with the beating of Rodney King, hardly helped to re-establish his hardcore credentials. His work as part of N.W.A., and as head of Ruthless Records (which he founded in 1985 allegedly with funds obtained from drug dealing) had already made him a household name. However, as a solo performer his raps lacked penetration, even if the musical backdrop was just as intense as that which distinguished N.W.A. His debut solo album contained a clean and dirty side. The first was accomplished with very little merit, cuts such as ‘We Want Eazy’ being self-centred and pointless.

A high school dropout, Wright turned to drug dealing to support himself, and eventually used the profits to start his own rap label, Ruthless Records, with partner and music-business veteran Jerry Heller. E discovered a major performing talent in the D.O.C., and recruited Ice Cube and Dr. Dre to write songs for his stable of artists. When their composition "Boyz-N-the Hood" was rejected by Ruthless signee HBO, Cube, Dre, and E formed the first version of N.W.A. to record it themselves. Their first album, N.W.A. and the Posse, was released in 1987 and largely ignored; after a few tweaks of the lineup and the rough-edged subject matter, 1988's Straight Outta Compton made N.W.A. into superstars. E seized the opportunity to release a solo project later in the year, titled Eazy-Duz-It, which would be the only full-length album he would complete; it would sell well over two-million copies.

N.W.A.’s debut album, "N.W.A. and The Posse," was a party-oriented jam record that largely went ignored upon its 1987 release. In the following year, the group added M.C. Ren and revamped their sound, bringing in many of the noisy, extreme sonic innovations of Public Enemy and adopting a self-consciously violent and dangerous lyrical stance. Late in 1988, N.W.A. delivered "Straight Outta Compton, " a vicious hardcore record that became an underground hit with virtually no support from radio, the press or MTV. N.W.A. became notorious for their hardcore lyrics, especially those of "Fuck Tha Police," which resulted in the FBI sending a warning letter to Ruthless and its parent company, suggesting that the group should watch their step. Most of the group's political threat left with Ice Cube when he departed in late 1989 amidst many financial disagreements. A nasty feud between N.W.A. and Cube began that would culminate with Cube’s "No Vaseline," an attack on the group's management released on his 1991 "Death Certificate" album. By the time the song was released, N.W.A., for all intents and purposes, was finished.

Eazy and the rest of the crew would go on to release two more albums, "100 Miles and Runnin’" in 1990 and "Efil4zaggin" (which is Niggaz 4 Life backwards) the following year, and the albums were mostly Eazy flexing his lyrical muscle. Some of the lyrics provoked outrage from many critics and conservative circles, but that only increased the group's predominately male, White suburban audience. Even though the group was at the peak of their popularity, Dre began to make efforts to leave the crew, due to conflicting egos and what he perceived as an unfair record deal. Dre and Eazy would then delve into a widely publicized feud that would run its course over a few years. Eazy then would have to make the transition as a solo artist, but seemingly the transition was made rather smoothly.

Eazy had released his debut solo album in 1988, titled "Eazy Duz It," which would ultimately be his only full-length album. It was received well amongst fans, particularly in California. Although he would never achieve the astronomical success he received with N.W.A. on a commercial level, he still was considered a force in Hip-Hop. Fans across the nation had begun to see a change in Hip-Hop, and Eazy was one of the many driving forces behind it.

Amidst the drama that was going on between he and Dr. Dre, Eazy decided to take the bold step of addressing the issue on record. "It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa" was released in late 1993, which proved to be a depiction of the murder of Dre on record, and it attracted major attention. The unapologetically violent album would be the first of many on-record feuds between Dre and Eazy, and it shed a lot of light on the issues between the former partners. It also marked the decline in Eazy’s vastly flourishing career.


After Ice Cube's bitter departure from N.W.A. toward the end of 1989 (precipitated in part by Heller's business tactics), Eazy-E took over his not inconsiderable share of the rapping and songwriting duties, becoming the group's dominant voice on 1991's Efil4zaggin. His taste for cartoon-ish vulgarity began to undermine the claims of realistic inner-city reporting that the group had used to defend themselves. Disputes between the members led to N.W.A.'s breakup that summer, and a court battle between Ruthless and Dre's new label Death Row soon followed, with Eazy alleging that Death Row head Suge Knight had coerced Ruthless into releasing Dre from his contract. The case was eventually thrown out, but a bitter feud between Dre and Eazy raged for the next several years; Dre's seminal solo debut The Chronic made merciless fun of Eazy. 

In 1995, the Hip-Hop nation was struck with alarming news. In a publicized statement, Eazy announced he had contracted HIV, the virus that caused AIDS. No one, including Eazy himself had a clue about how sick he actually was. During the week of 20th March, the star drafted his last message to fans. One month after making that haunting announcement, Eazy succumbed to the disease at a local hospital in Los Angeles. He was 31 years old at the time of his death. Before he died, Eazy had made amends with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, the men whom he skyrocketed to success with and rewrote Hip-Hop history with. A man of his talents has been deeply missed since his passing, and the game has had the unenviable task of going on without him.

Two postmortem albums were subsequently released, "Eternal E" in 1995 after his death, and "Str8 off Tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton," in 1998, both of which proved to be successful. An upcoming group discovered by Eazy, were in the beginning stages of their careers, which would prove fruitful later on. The legacy of Eazy E lives on in the hearts and minds of Hip-Hop and its long list of fans.

 

(sources: oldies.com, billboard.com, eazy-e.com)

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