AllHipHop.com: Later on, Eazy was extremely hurt by Dre’s departure, both businesswise and mentally. What was the climate at Ruthless after Dr. Dre left?
Jerry Heller: We lost the principles we started under, which was working on one album at a time. Eazy was searching for producers, sometimes we would have 15, 20 projects going at a time. We lost quality control. All you had to do in those days was say, Death Row was interested, and Eazy would sign them just to get them away from Dr. Dre. It was a very stressful time and fortunately, he was able to come back with his own solo record and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. But you can never replace an Andre Young.
AllHipHop.com: What were Eazy’s spirits like when he found Bone Thugs? It’s almost like he discovered them right on time and ushered in a new sound, look and another style for Hip-Hop music.
Jerry Heller: Eazy was doing a show in Cleveland. He heard them rapping and he freaked out. He immersed himself in the Bone project 24 hours a day, which is they way he did things and it turned out to be unbelievable.
AllHipHop.com: During the Bone Thug period is when Eazy was diagnosed with AIDS. How was he really with women?
Jerry Heller: Eazy was very promiscuous. Women loved him. That was his only weakness. He was strong intelligent businessman and artist, and I always thought women were his weakness. I didn’t know I would be such a prognosticator of things to do come. It would be nothing for him to see half-a-dozen women in a single day. I was very sad that with all that he had to live for, that his career and his contribution would be ending that way. I loved Eazy.
AllHipHop.com: When you found out the news, how did you react? Right in the middle of this success, but also after so much inner turmoil in the company?
Jerry Heller: I was very sad. With all he had to live for, that his career and contribution would be ending that way. He was like a son to me; I loved him. I was like a father to him and he was like my son. We had an incredible relationship, both personally and businesswise.
AllHipHop.com: How was the business handled after Eazy died? Bone Thugs have sold millions of records, but their recording career went in a different direction after Eazy-E passed.
Jerry Heller: I am contractually not allowed to discuss those things as part of a settlement that I made after he died. I would like to, but I can’t. I try to protect Eazy’s legacy.
AllHipHop.com: In the book, you mention the tense atmosphere at Ruthless Records when Dre left and went on to Death Row. How did Suge Knight enter the scene? What was he like early on?
Jerry Heller: I liked Suge Knight at first. Eazy always saw right through him. I always want to help the underdog. He was an enterprising guy, he did bodyguard work and he was a driver for Ruthless clients. My initial instincts were to help him on the management end of the business. We used to talk for hours on end. Eazy always felt Suge was going to be a problem. I disagreed with him, and I was wrong. Suge Knight was one of the factors for breaking up N.W.A., and that’s unforgivable. I know how Brian Epstein [The Beatles manager] must have felt when Lennon and McCartney couldn’t get along anymore. It’s unforgivable to break up the Black Beatles. If I had to step aside, I would have done it in a second. When Eazy died, the most important thing to him was an N.W.A. reunion album, which I wished he could have done before he died.
AllHipHop.com: You wrote a rap at the end answering Ice Cube’s ”No Vaseline.” Why did you do that?
Jerry Heller: Just to show how ridiculous it was. Even though Cube and Dre say bad things about me, I tell it like it is. I don’t present myself as some knight on a white horse. I want everybody to read this book and decide for themselves. When I did that rap, I was saying, these guys attacked me and I didn’t have a forum to reply. The other thing that sort of bothered me. In XXL, I was mentioned in two of the biggest diss records of all time. I think that’s ludicrous. I never cheated them. Everyone was paid the same amount. Cube wanted to leave based on his own ambitions and sometimes it’s easier to blame the Jewish manager, which is common practice in the music business! All of the contractual workings are in the book, and I even challenge Cube to dispute the numbers.
AllHipHop.com: You call yourself n##ga in Ruthless. Being a White guy, how do you feel about helping a hand in popularizing the word n##ga through N.W.A.?
Jerry Heller: I’m very proud of everything we did at Ruthless and so was Eazy. I am incredibly proud of the contribution N##gas With Attitudes made to the social structure and breaking down the barriers in America. Eazy was a visionary And I am certainly proud of having been in business with him. It took a lot of balls in 1987, for a group to come out called N##gas with Attitudes, to say Straight Outta Compton, crazy muthf##ka named Ice Cube from a band with N##gas with Attitudes. I think that was incredibly brave. All of these legislative people and stuff, they put their hometown on the map.