Eazy-E & N.W.A.
By ’87 Ice Cube returned to the group to be the foremost song writer for the group with ghost-writer The D.O.C., leaving Dr. Dre and Yella to co-produce the tracks and Eazy-E and MC Ren adding their vocals. The union was running tight like Swiss clockwork. The upcoming productions in 1988-’89 were considered hip-hop masterpieces. Eazy was organising the business side of creating a record label to unleash gangsta rap to the world. Partnering with businessman, Jerry Heller, Eazy formed ‘Ruthless Records’ from parent company Priority Records. Eazy saw himself as the group’s manager but rather than a one-dimensional impresario his image was broadcasted to the forefront of N.W.A. and subsequently the renaissance of Gangsta rap. Eazy-E became a rapper. Proving to be very unnatural to this art form, Ice Cube and MC Ren would continue to coach Eazy on his rapping skills for D.O.C. and Ice Cube’s lyrics. NWA had a man to front the group with the right epitome for this expressive element. As is the nature of any good entrepreneur, Eazy cashed in on his new-found flourishing identity and quickly released a solo LP, ‘Eazy-Duz-It’ released in 1987. Eazy laid down his distinctive lyric and gangsta phenomenon and a double platinum creation sold 2.7 million copies. Ice Cube and The D.O.C. are credited with almost writing the complete volume of lyrics for the album.
By early 1988 N.W.A. had released their finest work with Straight Outta Compton. This became a platinum-certified underground hit and sold a further two million copies after it was re-released in 1989. Considered an outbreak of a silenced generation surviving the struggles of the inner city concrete jungle warfare of South Central Los Angeles, N.W.A. reported bluntly about life in the ghetto throughout most of the songs of Straight Outta Compton. The opening three tracks conveyed a common voice from the people in Compton, South Central. The first title track showed the violent energy of the city with "Gangsta, Gangsta" describing vividly the culture of gang life. But perhaps one of hip-hop's most controversial and misinterpreted tracks, was written after Eazy and Dre felt inspired by a real event endured with the L.A.P.D. The mistreatment they suffered at the hands of an arrest after being caught for allegedly performing a series of drive-by shootings with paint ball weapons. With such directed angst toward their local law enforcement, Dre and Eazy went straight into the studio upon their release to work on "Fuck The Police." This introduced Eazy to an unequivocal antidisestablishmentarianism attitude toward mainstream society, a marketing genius confirmed as the catalyst for the group who now became the face of Compton gangsta rap.
The lyrics to "Fuck Tha Police" had sparked flaming controversy across American law enforcement and government. Milt Ahlerich, an assistant director of the F.B.I. sent a disparaging letter to Ruthless Records and parent company, Priority advising the group of the law enforcement’s “exception to such (fucking the police)” This publicity worked entirely in N.W.A.’s favour labelling them as ‘The world’s most dangerous group.’ The alarming rate of success to this un-American group was due to predominant sales of the Straight Outta Compton album coming from white middle class teenagers, who at the time saw a new genre for which to rebel with. This wave of unrest caused the authorities to keep a watchful eye over N.W.A. constantly monitoring the group’s lyrical content and stage performances. Banning their songs on radio stations and shows in several intolerant states grew to their infamous popularity. This promoted N.W.A.’s hardcore gangsta stature. Straight Outta Compton reached double-platinum sales success by 1990.
The climax of this story had reached its peek for N.W.A. as late 1989 saw Ice Cube part ways with the group and label, citing that partner Jerry Heller was garnering undue shares of the group’s earning at the expense of the other artists. Eazy also was blamed for taking a bigger cut. N.W.A. was depleted without the intellect of Ice Cube’s song-writing adroitness.
The remaining four in the group did not take well to Cube’s departure, continuing a tirade of diss-songs against the now solo artist on the EP, 100 Miles N Runnin and Efil4zaggin. This again became great marketing tools for N.W.A. Ice Cube released Amerikkka’s Most Wanted without retaliation on the group.
Eazy-E had assumed control of their direction, continuing the hardcore and controversial lyrics backed up by austere, negligible beats. This was not always agreed by the members, specifically Dre who became increasingly critical of the executive face of the group. Dre preferred to embrace more conventional elements into the production. Regardless, N.W.A. and Eazy-E both released an EP as well as some other side productions from The D.O.C. Eazy, for the final N.W.A. album in 1991, ‘Efil4zaggin’ wanted to include more stereotypical props for their photo shoots and videos. The use of shotguns, pistols and denim gangsta-outfits for which Dre thought to be asinine and uncreative. These differences of opinions tore away Dre from the group accompanied with accusations of financial withholding by Eazy and Jerry Heller.
On his second album, Death Certificate Ice Cube fired back at his former group by releasing the song, "No Vaseline," proclaiming "The World's Most Dangerous Crew" as "phonies" and Eazy-E to be a "snitch". He also made Anti-Semitic remarks about his former manager Jerry Heller, the "Jew who broke up his crew." He claimed that Heller cheated him and was still cheating the group, with the exception of Eazy-E. This highly damaged N.W.A.'s street credibility. Many would say this led to the group's demise.