Eighteen years ago, Hip-Hop suffered a major loss with the passing of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright. Although he wasn’t the most technically skilled rapper, his business acumen and charismatic personality more than made up for it.
Eazy-E is one of the pioneers of the rap genre called gangsta, but he didn’t have an angry scowl across his face at every waking moment. He was a member of “the world’s most dangerous group,” yet he did work the Athletes and Entertainers charitable organization. Eazy challenged authority, and, ironically, that made him a voice of a generation.
From September 7, 1963, to March 26, 1995, when he died due to complications from AIDS, Eazy-E lived life to the fullest. And the effect that he had on the world continues to resonate with people to this day. In honor of Eazy-E, AllHipHop takes a moment to celebrate his life and recognize the impact of a Hip-Hop icon.
Eazy-E is gone, but here are 5 reasons that he will never be forgotten.
Ruthless Records: Eazy-E was not just a solo artist and a member of N.W.A, he founded Ruthless Records along with former rock manager, Jerry Heller. The label didn’t merely serve as a vehicle for “N***** Wit Attitude,” but created hits for J.J. Fad, The D.O.C., and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. And Eazy’s eye for talent didn’t stop there; he also introduced a pre-fame will.i.am (then known as Will 1X) to the world on the song, “Merry Muthaphuckkin’ XMas” in 1992.
“Boyz-n-the Hood”: Ice-T’s “6 in the Mornin’” does precede this song in terms of depicting life on the California streets. And while Ice provided a narrative set there, Eazy was able to distinguish himself with his unmistakable voice and geographic slang (e.g. “Cruisin‘ down the street in my ’64). The record also gave a writer named Ice Cube and a producer named Dr. Dre a chance to show their chops. This record is great, but it was a just a preview of things to come.
Straight Outta Compton: It’s pretty much impossible to say anything about this album that hasn’t already been said. But to recap: it went platinum with no radio airplay, the video to the album’s title track was banned from MTV, it encouraged a letter from the F.B.I. accusing the group of advocating violence, and it changed the look and the sound of music forever. None of this would have been possible without Eazy.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: Just as how Eazy-E took music into uncharted territory with the explicit nature of N.W.A, he did it again with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The group, which hails from Celeveland, Ohio, is truly one of a kind. Their rapid-fire and melodic flow was never done before and hasn’t been matched since. Their catchy tunes and speedy delivery creates an appeal that reaches pop audiences and Hip-Hop heads alike.
Posthumous Influence: Eric “Eazy-E” Wright left his mark on the music industry. Even having worked with Marvin Gaye, Journey, and Styxx, among others, Heller still titled his 2006 memoir, Ruthless, after the company he started with the then-unknown rapper. Game has a tattoo of Eazy and has made numerous references to him in his music. One of Eazy’s children, Lil Eazy-E, incorporated his namesake in order to help carry on his father’s legacy. And at the end of the epic clip for “I Need a Doctor,” the video concludes with Dr. Dre at the grave of his friend and one-time rival paying his respects.
What impact do you think Eazy-E has had on music? Is he remembered and acknowledged as much as he should be? Sound off in the comments section!