Photo credits: Xenon Films/Ruthless Records
Eric L. Wright (known professionally as Eazy-E) was a Black American rap artist, songwriter, record producer, and music publishing entrepreneur who propelled West Coast rap and gangsta rap.
He led the group N.W.A and its label, Ruthless Records, pushing the boundaries of lyrical content.
Wright was born on September 7, 1963, in Compton, California where the former icon was also raised. He had several legal troubles before founding Ruthless in 1987. After a short solo career with frequent collaboration with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, they joined Wright and formed N.W.A, later that year.
N.W.A’s debut studio album, Straight Outta Compton, was released in 1988. Controversial upon release, it is now ranked among the greatest and most influential albums. The group released its third and final studio album, Niggaz4Life, in 1991, and soon after disbanded.
During N.W.A’s splintering, largely by disputes over money, Eazy-E became embroiled in bitter rivalries with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, who had departed for solo careers in 1989 and 1991, respectively. Resuming his solo career, Eazy-E released two EPs. Yet he remained more significant behind the scenes, signing and nationally debuting the rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony from 1993 to 1994.
This group of Wright’s won a Grammy and sold over 40 million records worldwide in a very short time. In 1995, Eazy-E was suddenly hospitalized and diagnosed with AIDS and died due to its complications on March 26, 1995. He was only 31 years of age. Before his death, Wright’s lawyer released a statement authorized by him to his fans, which read:
“I may not seem like a guy you would pick to preach a sermon. But I feel it is now time to testify because I do have folks who care about me hearing all kinds of stuff about what’s up. Yeah, I was a brother on the streets of Compton doing a lot of things most people look down on — but it did pay off. Then we started rapping about real stuff that shook up the LAPD and the FBI. But we got our message across big time, and everyone in America started paying attention to the boys in the ‘hood.” “Soon our anger and hope got everyone riled up. There were great rewards for me personally, like fancy cars, gorgeous women, and good living. Like real non-stop excitement. I’m not religious, but wrong or right, that’s me. I’m not saying this because I’m looking for a soft cushion wherever I’m heading, I just feel that I’ve got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what’s real when it comes to AIDS. Like the others before me, I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin. Because I want to save their asses before it’s too late.
I’m not looking to blame anyone except myself. I have learned in the last week that this thing is real, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone. My girl Tomika and I have been together for four years and we recently got married. She’s good, she’s kind and a wonderful mother. We have a little boy who’s a year old. Before Tomika I had other women. I have seven children by six different mothers. Maybe success was too good for me. I love all my kids and always took care of them. Now I’m in the biggest fight of my life, and it ain’t easy. But I want to say much love to those who have been down to me. And thanks for your support. Just remember: It’s YOUR real time and YOUR real life.