Eazy E is widely credited as being the godfather of gangster rap. Born on September 7, 1964, in Compton, California, he dropped out of high school to make money on the streets selling drugs. It is with proceeds from the trade that he was able to found Ruthless Records. He later on formed the N.W.A (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) music group together with Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and The Arabian Prince.
The group’s albums and songs were released through Eazy E’s Ruthless Records. Its debut album Straight Outta Compton featured uncompromisingly violent lyrics, doused with profanity, making it the first in history to feature a Parental Advisory Label. It was, however, a huge success.
According to Ice Cube, the group gained popularity because it epitomized the gangster culture and people simply loved the outlaw. This was while speaking to Billboard. With no radio play or promotion, Straight Outta Compton went Gold in a few weeks, eventually reaching Double Platinum.
That said, the relationship between group members was at times tumultuous, eventually leading to its split. In the beginning, Eazy E was viewed as the group’s mentor. This is according to Ice Cube’s revelation.
Ice Cube left N.W.A following a misunderstanding with Jerry Heller over contract terms. The group dissed him in the albums 100 Miles and Runnin and Niggaz4Life after he filed a lawsuit against Ruthless Records. Ultimately, the matter was settled out of court.
In its final years as a dominant music production house, The D.O.C and Suge Knight are said to have advised Dr. Dre to leave N.W.A following suspicions of financial meddling by the group’s financial manager, Jerry Heller and Eazy E. Suge. Knight and his henchmen allegedly intimidated Eazy E into letting Dr. Dre off his contract with Ruthless Records. According to a report by The Daily Beast, they initially used bats and a pit bull before roughing him up.
Suge Knight allegedly procured The D.O.C., Dr. Dre and Michel’le’s contracts that night. Suge Knight, The D.O.C and Dr. Dre went on to form Death Row Records. Eazy E died on March 26, 1995, following health complications. Suge Knight is currently in jail awaiting murder trial.