Straight Outta Compton continues to attract controversy as it soars past $100 million at the domestic box office. The critically acclaimed biopic about West Coast rappers N.W.A is the biggest hit of the summer, despite distractions about Dr. Dre’s abusive past with women, and most recently, the resurfacing of longstanding rumors that Eazy-E was purposely given HIV, and that Suge Knight was involved with the conspiracy to murder Eazy.
Eazy-E’s former manager Jerry Heller finally had a chance to see Straight Outta Compton, and a recent interview with the L.A. Times reveals that he was not impressed. While Jerry was an integral part of N.W.A’s success, he was accused of creating discord by taking advantage of them. Now he may sue over his portrayal in the film “as a divisive business figure” played by Paul Giamatti.
“I did see it on Saturday,” Heller said, “and I’m still not willing to comment right now on that movie because I think sooner or later it may be part of an ongoing litigation.”
Heller, who told Grantland that he was not consulted about Straight Outta Compton, also criticized Dre and the producers for ignoring the success a team of teenage female rappers called J.J. had on Eazy’s Ruthless Records. “I just think that Ruthless owes them a great debt of gratitude,” Heller said.
“They generated a lot of money for our company. People never thought about some of the other stuff we had there, like J.J. Fad and Michel’le, but that was a big part of the Ruthless story. Eazy and I loved those girls,” he said.
Straight Outta Compton depicts Eazy and Jerry’s business relationship and camaraderie as one that eventually disrupts the dynamic of N.W.A, with both Dre and Ice Cube leaving the group over financial discrepancies. Heller maintains he never took a dime that wasn’t owed to him, and at the time, Eazy didn’t believe Jerry was stealing from the group, until his business-savvy girlfriend provided him with irrefutable proof of Jerry’s deceit. Eazy fired Heller and later contacted Dre and Cube to reform N.W.A. but he died before they could record any new music together.
Ice Cube, who has worked with Straight Outta Compton’s director F. Gary Gray since they made 1995’s Friday together, was asked about Heller in an interview earlier this month.
“Personally, I don’t really have that much animosity toward Jerry Heller,” Cube said. “You know, it’s a long time ago. Respect the fact that Eazy was no fool. And this guy was like a father figure to Eazy. In a lot of ways, he did what he said he was gonna do. Which is, make him legit. We were selling records out the trunk of our car before Jerry came into the picture.”
Heller reflected on his extensive music career in the Grantland interview, describing the most important years of his life were with N.W.A.
“Look, I brought Elton John here. I represented Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Van Morrison. Of all the things that I’ve done, certainly the most important period of my life was March 3, 1987, to March 26, 1995” — the date of the Macola meeting to the date of Eazy-E’s death due to complications from AIDS. “That was my period with Eazy-E. That was the period I’m most proud of.”
TMZ reports that a Straight Outta Compton sequel is in the works, which will document the rise of West Coast rappers on Death Row Records, including Snoop Dogg and the late Tupac Shakur. Dr. Dre’s son, Curtis Young, will allegedly play him in the film. No word yet on who will play Snoop, Ice Cube, and Suge Knight. According to the report, producers won’t be working with Suge, as he remains in jail awaiting trial on murder and attempted murder charges.
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