Friday (March 26) marks the 15th anniversary of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright’s death from AIDS complications. The N.W.A founder was a musical pioneer — not just for bringing gangsta rap to the mainstream, but because of how he revolutionized the business side of the game as well. He mastered self-promotion and pushed records independently with little-to-no airplay.
Eazy’s legacy speaks for itself, and his impact still resonates. Some of the younger L.A. acts wrote in to MTV News to talk about Eazy’s influence.
“Eazy-E was the pioneer and ambassador of L.A.’s street culture in hip-hop,” Nipsey Hussle said. “He embodied the mind state and attitude of a young man coming of age in urban Los Angeles.”
“Eazy-E started this gangsta sh–,” Jay Rock proclaimed. “He took it to a whole new level. If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t be no Ice Cube, no Snoop, no Game or no Jay Rock. He is the original blueprint for West Coast gangsta rap.”
The Game’s love for Eazy-E is well-documented. The Compton, California, native has a picture of Eazy and N.W.A tattooed on his body. Game’s message about Eazy was short and sweet: “Replacing Eazy is Eazy-er said than done.”
Earlier this week, producer Scoop DeVille sat in an LA studio with his father, Kid Frost, and remembered talking to Eazy. “Eazy would call the house and say, ’Tell your pop Eric called,’ ” Scoop recalled.
Frost signed to Ruthless Records in the mid-1990s, and shortly before Wright died, Kid was supposed to head the newly started Latin division of the label.
“I can say that dude had a big heart and love for the whole movement of the West Coast sound of gangsta rap,” Frost declared. “He definitely was the godfather of gangsta rap. There’s still not a lot of records I hear to this day that can hold water to what he was doing with Dr. Dre, like Straight Outta Compton. I’ll always be part of the Ruthless family. I’ll always be the first Mexican that got signed to Ruthless Records.”
“Eazy was a real dude,” Scoop added. “He was a businessman and a street dude. He has everyone’s respect to this day.”
How has Eazy-E’s music impacted your life? Share your memories in the comments section below.