Eazy-E (Eric Wright) (September 7, 1964 – March 26, 1995) was an African-American rapper, record producer, and record executive who initially rose to fame as a member of the group N.W.A.. Born in Compton, California, Eazy-E dropped out of Compton High School while in tenth grade and began selling drugs. He used the profits to form a record label, Ruthless Records, with Jerry Heller. He soon recruited Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince. Soon the group released their first album, N.W.A. and the Posse in 1987, under the name N.W.A. (“Niggaz With Attitude”). The album was not a success, but the following year’s Straight Outta Compton and its title track were incredible smash hits. Eazy-E quickly released his vanguard solo LP, Eazy-Duz-It, which went double-platinum. Ice Cube left N.W.A. in 1989, convinced that Eazy-E and Heller were reaping an undue share of the group’s profits at the expense of the group’s other members, and Eazy-E largely took over Cube’s writing and rapping duties for Efil4zaggin (1991). The album was not as successful as Straight Outta Compton, and N.W.A. soon broke up, initiating a long court battle between the various members of N.W.A., Heller, Ruthless Records and Death Row Records (Dr. Dre’s label, headed by Suge Knight). Dr. Dre’s solo debut, the blockbuster hit The Chronic made fun of Eazy-E on several tracks. In response Eazy-E released a second solo album It’s On (Dr.Dre) 187um Killa, which eventually sold more than 1.5 million copies. The album contains repeated references to Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg. The album shows Dre on the album’s inner sleeve dressed in drag wearing eye shadow, lipstick and sequins. Ruthless Records found considerable success with Above the Law, MC Ren, N.W.A. and, most famously, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
Eazy-E lost the respect from many rap fans after vocally supporting Theodore Briseno, the only non-white police officer who took part in the Rodney King beating and attending a Republican fundraiser (Willie D is quoted as saying “Eazy-E is a sellout”). In spite of their hostility towards him and NWA, the FBI actually uncovered a plot by white supremacists to assassinate Eazy-E.
In 1995, Eazy-E entered the hospital with what he believed to be developing asthma. He was diagnosed with AIDS, and almost immediately announced his illness to the public. He died soon after, on March 26, 1995 approximately 6:35PM. Str8 Off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton was released posthumously. His oldest son, nicknamed “Eazy-E, Jr.” or “Lil Eazy-E”, released a documentary about his father entitled The Life and times of Eric Wright. The Impact of a Legend pack came with its own documentary of the same name, produced separately from Eazy-E, Jr.’s. Eazy-E fathered nine children by seven different women. He is now considered one of the founding fathers of Gangsta rap. By order of the mayor, Eazy-E Day is celebrated once a year in Compton.