Eric Lynn Wright, better known by his stage name Eazy-E, was an American rapper fondly called the "The Godfather of Gangsta rap" by his fans. He was a popular solo performer who also performed in the hip hop group N.W.A. Known for his unique style of delivery, over-the-top lyrics, and raw sex appeal, Eazy-E was indeed a rap-star beyond comparison. Born into an impoverished family in Compton, California, his early dream was to make it big and become rich no matter what. He dropped out of school in his mid-teens and became involved in the drug business that was flourishing in his notoriously violent neighborhood. Charming and determined, he earned a lot of money through his illegal activities and eventually decided to embark on a more respectable career as a rapper. Naturally talented, he started recording songs and soon formed a partnership with his friend Jerry Heller to form Ruthless Records. Deeply influenced by the contemporary funk groups, rappers and comedians, he went on to develop his own unique style that made him much popular among the masses. He was enroute to becoming one of the most successful rappers ever when it was discovered that he suffered from AIDS. He breathed his last just weeks after his diagnosis, aged 31
Childhood & Early Life
Eric Wright was born on September 7, 1963, in Compton, California. His father Richard was a postal worker and his mother Kathie was a grade school administrator. He grew up in an impoverished neighborhood notorious for its gang activity and crime.
He attended school for a few years and dropped out in the tenth grade. Eventually he went on to receive a high-school general equivalency diploma (GED).
As a teenager he was introduced to drug dealing by his cousin, and the duo earned a lot of money by selling drugs. Dealing in drugs not only helped him earn money, but also helped him in exercising considerable power in the neighborhood.
Wright however decided to change his occupation after his cousin was shot and killed. He loved music, especially rapping, and this seemed to be a far safer and more respectable profession than selling drugs.
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He started recording songs in the mid-1980s. During this period, his friend Jerry Heller came up with the idea of forming a business. Both the young men invested their money to form Ruthless Records. It was decided that Wright would be the owner of the company and Heller his manager.
In 1986, Wright formed the hip-hop group, N.W.A., an acronym for Niggaz With Attitude. The lineup had Wright, O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and Arabian Prince.
The group released ‘N.W.A. and the Posse’ in 1987. It consisted of several tracks produced by Dr. Dre and previously released tracks by N.W.A, Eazy-E, the Fila Fresh Crew, and Rappinstine. The album was a big hit and was certified gold in the United States.
Their rising popularity prompted the group to venture into more controversial areas, and they brought out ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in August 1988. The album which featured significant profanity and violent lyrics was considered groundbreaking by music writers.
Wright became famous as “Eazy-E” once his musical career took off. He released his debut solo album, ‘Eazy-Duz-It’ in September 1988. Some of the tracks revolved around the gangster lifestyle in his hometown Compton which immediately resonated with many of the youngsters. The album was a huge success and went on to be certified double platinum in the United States.
In 1990, N.W.A released an EP, ‘100 Miles and Runnin' which once again proved to be a hit. It was followed by the release of ‘Niggaz4Life’ in 1991. The group broke up soon after its release due to certain internal issues. However, the break-up of the group had no negative impact on Eazy-E’s solo career as he had established himself as a much-loved rapper in his own right by now.
Eazy-E released his debut EP, ‘5150: Home 4 tha Sick’ in 1992. It was his first solo venture after the disbanding of N.W.A. It peaked at No. 70 on the Billboard 200 and No.15 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
He continued his streak of success with the release of the EP ‘It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa’ in 1993. It peaked at No. 5 on Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was certified multi- platinum within a year of its release. It was the last work he completed before his untimely death in 1995.
His album ‘Eazy-Duz-It’ was a super-hit which catapulted him to the status of a star rapper. It featured 12 tracks including ‘Boyz n the Hood’ and ‘No More ?'s’. Labeled as West Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap, and Golden age hip hop, it has sold over 2.5 million copies in the United States.
The last work he completed, the EP ‘It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa’, was another one of his biggest hits. Regarded as his most successful release, it had the tracks ‘Real Muthaphuckkin G's’, ‘Any Last Werdz’ and ‘Gimmie That Nutt’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Eazy-E had been sexually involved with numerous women and had fathered as many as seven children with six different women.
He met and developed a relationship with Tomica Woods in 1991. He married her in 1995, a few days after being diagnosed with AIDS.
He developed some serious respiratory issues in February 1995 and was diagnosed with AIDS. He publicly announced his illness on 16 March and died a few days later on 26 March, 1995, aged just 31. His final album, ‘Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton’ was released eight months after Eazy-E's death.