Eazy-E & N.W.A.
Real Name: Eric Lyn Wright (RIP)
D.O.B.: Sept. 7th 1963 Compton, California – Died: March 26th 1995
Eazy-E, an American entrepreneurial visionary, record executive and rapper who initially rose to fame as a member of the group N.W.A. Eazy was the sole embodiment of West Coast Gangsta Rap. He introduced the Compton panorama by way of pandemic to the mainstream media. His distinctive and influential image took over the country and became the mean mugging face of Gangsta rap for parents to be well afraid of. His true legacy to the music industry comes down the vision and faith he had in N.W.A. As a manager and business man he carried his street ethics into the industry and ran a very tight game for his crew. He was to be the label boss and manager, but after Cube penned, "Boyz N Tha Hood" he became the main focal point of the outfit. Not for his rap but his straight-up don't-give-a-fuck swagger, a very real N.W.A. The rest followed, pitching the soundtrack of the hardcore streets of Los Angeles during it's most volatile era in history.
Eazy’s lyrical characteristics were instantly recognisable by his high-pitched voice with careless abandonment that gave him the anti-role model identity causing much concern for the American government who tried on several occasions to shut down this iconic figure diseasing the wholesome middle-class America. Rapping openly about the cultural atrocities of the inner city of Los Angeles, focusing on the guns, drugs, the police, and misogynist lyrics Eazy became the scapegoat for the carnage left trailed behind by strong gang activity in his home-town. This also gave him the material and quintessential identity to make Eazy-E a very rich a successful industrialist of rap music. The mind of a hustler, Eazy took the streets of Compton and created a company to envelop the scene into a music label. He created Ruthless Records.
Born and raised in Compton, California, Eric Wright attended William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, California (being bussed from South Central). He learnt the necessary skills of business by dealing drugs, of typical economic minded genius, saved the money for a legitimate venture when the opportunity arose. He was in school with Ice Cube who used to write lyrics and rap with a friend, Sir Jinx in a group called ‘C.I.A.’ performing at house parties hosted by Andre ‘Dr. Dre’ Young who at the time was an aspiring renowned local Compton DJ working at KDAY-AM radio station on the hip-hop show with Antoine ‘D.J. Yella’ Carraby as well as working with Alonzo Williams as a mobile DJ crew called Disco Construction & the Wreckin’ Cru. They hosted parties and dance events throughout downtown LA until 1979 when Lonzo started to run one of the clubs they worked in Eve’s After Dark in Compton. With the disco scene dropping dead, Lonzo revamped the club and set up a permanent crew starring himself on vocals, Dr. Dre and Yella on production, and Marquise ‘Cli-En-Tel’ Hawkins with Michelle ‘Michel’le’ Toussaint on additional vocals in the electro-funk group ‘World Class Wreckin’ Crew’. The group were innovative and set the trend for the next wave of the underground music scene in LA. Eve’s After Dark became a hotspot for emerging talent. Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright would frequent the club attracting talent to join his new venture in opening his own record label. Dre however was under contract with Lonzo and in debt to him for paying his studio time and paying off parking fines and raising bail every time Dre was imprisoned for not paying his fines.
Eazy heard this and saw the potential in this new genre of rap music. As an enterprising local drug dealer he always had pockets full of cash and ahead full of entrepreneurial ideas. At this stage Dre was working with CIA’s Ice Cube producing tracks for the group under Cube’s lyrics. They recorded in Eve’s studios. It was at this time Dre’s RX7 Mazda was impounded for unpaid parking tickets compounding to $900 for release. Without any financial mercy, Dre approached the local drug dealer, Eazy for help. With a promise to produce songs for the record label he was looking to form, Eazy paid for studio time in Lonzo’s Eve’s After Dark club. There Dre and Cube put together their skills, Dre the producer and Cube the writer, and they produced for Eazy’s first act under Ruthless Records, HBO a New York based rap duo. Eazy wanted Dre and Cube to come up with east coast influenced tracks. This had little success as Ice Cube refused to play the New York tip and wrote a dirty, descriptive, violent and expressive South Central LA ghetto anthem he called ‘Boyz n Tha Hood’. HBO walked out refusing to perform this track. Leaving Cube, Dre and Eazy with this ground-breaking hit, they suggested that Eazy learned to rap and performed the track himself. With coaching from Cube and local rapper, Lorenzo ‘MC Ren’ Patterson Eric Wright became Eazy-E that hardcore Compton rapper. By September 1987 the track was released by Eazy-E under Ruthless Records. Eazy seized his opportunity by assembling them together with The D.O.C., Arabian Prince and MC Ren forming the now infamous, ‘Niggaz With Attitude’. Eazy had captured the essence of the streets of L.A. in a 40 ounce bottle. In 1986 N.W.A. was born.
Utilising the earnings from drug dealing, Eazy and the newly formed N.W.A. act released ‘N.W.A. And The Posse’ in 1986, selling well for an underground project. Ice Cube was not available for this leaving Dre and DJ Yella to produce a heavier, slower beat with sub par lyrical content. Artists, Arabian Prince had officially left the group for unknown reasons soon after this first release. The D.O.C. would ghost write for the label in absence of Ice Cube’s writing, with Ren subbing for Cube’s vocals.