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Eric Lynn Wright (September 7, 1963 – March 26, 1995), better known by the stage name Eazy-E, was an American rapper, producer, and record executive from Compton, Californiamarker. Widely regarded as one of the founders of the gangsta rap subgenre, he rose to fame as the founder and member of the group N.W.A and later achieved critical and commercial success as a solo artist.

Eazy-E's vocal style was marked by his youthful, high-pitched voice and his lyrics focusing on the elements of urban street life such as guns, drugs, relations between residents and the police, and sexual activity. He had also for some time hosted a hip-hop radio show on Los Angeles-based radio station KKBT.

Biography

Early life (1963-1986)

Eric Wright was born to Richard and Kathie Wright on September 7, 1963 in Compton, Californiamarker, a suburb of Los Angelesmarker. His father was a postal worker and his mother was a grade school administrator. Eric dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and supported himself by selling drugs. He was also a member of the Kelly Park Compton Crip during his teen years, and he openly associated himself with other Crips. He later received a high school equivalency diploma.

Ruthless Records, N.W.A and Eazy-Duz-It (1987-1991)

In 1987, Eazy used the profits from his drug sales to co-found Ruthless Records with Jerry Heller. When Ruthless signees Dr. Dre and Ice Cube wrote "Boyz-n-the-Hood", Ahmed Saaoud and Eazy-E formed the group N.W.A with Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. (DJ Yella and Arabian Prince were later added.) In this period, Ruthless Records released the compilation N.W.A and the Posse (1987), and N.W.A's proper debut Straight Outta Compton (1988). One month later, Eazy-E released his first solo album, Eazy-Duz-It. The album sold two million copies, certifying it as a double platinum album, and spawned the hit singles "We Want Eazy" and "Eazy-Er Said Than Dunn". The album was produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella and largely written by Ice Cube, with contributions from MC Ren and The D.O.C.. In March 1991, Eazy-E accepted an invitation to a lunch benefiting the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle, hosted by then-President George H. W. Bush. A spokesman for the rapper claimed that Eazy-E supported Bush for overseeing Operation Desert Storm. On the final N.W.A album, Niggaz4Life (1991), some of the lyrics provoked outrage from many liberals and conservatives alike.

End of N.W.A and Fued with Dr. Dre (1991-1994)

Disputes about money caused N.W.A to break up in 1991, as it was thought Eazy-E and Jerry Heller were stealing money from the group. Ice Cube is believed to have left N.W.A for this reason, which he later referenced in his diss song, "No Vaseline". Subsequently, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre started feuding - a feud that grew to embroil most of Ruthless Records and Dr. Dre's new label, Death Row Records with Merrill. Eazy-E released two Extended Play's during this period, 5150: Home 4 tha Sick (1992), and It's On 187um Killa (1993), the latter was a response to Dr. Dre's The Chronic.

Illness, Death and Posthumous album (1995)

On March 16 1995, Eazy-E checked himself into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with what he believed at the time was chronic asthma. Following comprehensive tests, it was discovered that he was suffering from AIDS, and his condition deteriorated rapidly. During the week of March 20, already having made amends with Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, Eazy-E drafted what would be his last message to his fans. On March 26, 1995, ten days after being admitted into the hospital, Eazy-E died at the age of 31. On his death bed days before, Eazy married long-term girlfriend and mother of his child Tomica Woods, and she inherited his share of Ruthless Records. He was buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, Californiamarker.

In November of 1995, shortly after Eazy-E's death, Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton was released posthumously. The album was set to have up to 60 tracks on two discs, but Eazy-E died before he could finish it.

Discography

1988: Eazy-Duz-It

1992: 5150: Home 4 tha Sick (EP)

1993: It's On 187um Killa (EP)

1995: Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton*

2002: Impact of a Legend (EP)*

An asterisk (*) indicates the album was released posthumously.

Legal issues

At the start of Dr. Dre's defection from Ruthless Records, executives Mike Klein and Jerry Heller sought assistance from the Jewish Defense League (JDL). Klein, former Ruthless Records director of business affairs said this provided Ruthless Records with muscle to enter into negotiations with Death Row Records over Dr. Dre's departure. While Suge Knight violently sought an outright release from Ruthless Records for Dr. Dre, the JDL and Ruthless Records management were able to sit down with Death Row and negotiate a release in which the record label would continue to receive money and publishing rights from future Dr. Dre projects. It was under these terms that Dr. Dre left Ruthless Records and formed Death Row with Suge Knight. The FBI launched a money laundering investigation, assuming that the JDL was extorting money from Ruthless Records to fight their extremist causes. This led to JDL spokesperson Irv Rubin issuing a press release stating "There was nothing but a close, tight relationship" between Eazy-E and the organization.

Lil Eazy-E

Eric Wright, Jr., better known by his stage name Lil Eazy-E, (born April 23, 1984) is an American rapper and the eldest son of Eazy-E. Wright Jr. was born and raised in Compton, California, in the same house his father grew up in. He was 10 years old when his father died. He first appeared on the hip hop scene with Daz Dillinger, during which time an independent album release was expected. However, no contract was actually signed, and this led to an eventual feud between the two rappers. Lil Eazy-E left Virgin Records for a deal with Blackground and Universal Motown Records Group in 2006. He created the recording label Kings of L.A. Entertainment and released the mixtape Compton For Life.

He has performed duets with rappers such as Timbaland and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. His album The Prince of Compton, has no release date as of 2009. The release date of September 16 was scrapped, due to poor response to the single, "What We're Claiming". Lil Eazy-E was involved in a feud with rapper The Game, because he thought The Game was overusing his father's name. He disses The Game on the track Coming From Compton on his mixtape Rebirth of Gangsta Rap. The Game shot back on the song 120 Bars. Lil Eazy-E retaliated on the song "They Know Me", in which he claims nobody even knows The Game the way they know Lil Eazy-E. Later the Game said he and Lil Eazy-E had ended their feud.

References

  1. Eazy-E biography
  2. Find a Grave - Eazy-E


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