Who Was Eazy-E?
Eazy-E co-founded Ruthless Records and started the group N.W.A. with fellow rappers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. The controversial act, known for its violent and misogynistic lyrics, dropped albums like Straight Outta Compton, with Eazy releasing work as a solo artist. A radio show host as well, he died from AIDS-related complications on March 26, 1995.
Background and Early Career
Rapper Eazy-E was born Eric Wright on September 7, 1963, in Compton, California, a city in Los Angeles County. He dropped out of high school and worked as a drug dealer for a time, using his income to co-found a label, Ruthless Records, with music industry insider Jerry Heller. He teamed up with two other youngsters from the region, O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson and Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, who started crafting songs for Wright's label.
After another Ruthless group opted not to record a song by Jackson and Young, Wright joined with the two men to record "Boyz-n-the-Hood" as Niggaz With Attitude, also known as N.W.A.
Hit With 'Straight Outta Compton'
With other rap artists such as DJ Yella, MC Ren, and the D.O.C. joining the act, the group released its debut album, N.W.A. and the Posse, in 1987, dropping its next album, Straight Outta Compton, the following year. The disc, which went on to earn double-platinum sales, also contained the track "F--- tha Police," spurring the FBI to send a cautionary letter to the company that housed Wright's label.
Eazy-E released his solo album Eazy-Duz-It the same year, which was in fact another collaborative effort between various members of N.W.A. with Eazy serving as the main performer. After Ice Cube left the group in 1989, N.W.A. released the EP 100 Miles and Runnin' in 1990 and the full-length Efil4zaggin the following year, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Misogyny and Violence
Seen as a major influence on the gangsta rap themes that would later dominate commercial hip-hop, the group became known for extremely violent and misogynistic lyrical content, with much of its sales fueled by adolescent male suburbanites.
N.W.A. broke up in the early 1990s, with Eazy and Dr. Dre embroiled in litigious disputes that also saw the two attacking and lampooning each other in their respective work. Eazy, a consummate businessman who commented on how rap controversy could be used to spur album sales, continued running Ruthless Records, discovering acts like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. In 1992, he released his own solo EP, 5150 Home 4 tha Sick; another EP was released the following year.
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