The N.W.A. family tree looms large, and you can easily connect the dots between many of today’s emcees and Eazy-E, MC Ren, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and even DJ Yella. But a recently unsealed FBI document links both Eazy-E and Tupac Shakur to an alleged extortion attempt by the Jewish Defense League. As with many redacted government documents, many key names were omitted.
“On September 11, 1996 [omitted] reported that JDL, and others yet unidentified have been extorting money from various rap music stars via death threats,” the report states. “The scheme involves [omitted] and other subjects making telephonic death threats to the rap star. Subjects then intercede by contacting the victim and offering protection for a ‘fee’. Source reported that ERIC WRIGHT, also known as EAZY-E, who owned RUTHLESS RECORDS, Woodland Hills, California, was a victim of this extortion scheme prior to dying from AIDS. [Omitted] had also reportedly targeted TUPAC SHAKUR prior to his recent murder in Las Vegas, Nevada.”
This is not the first time there has been a connection between Ruthless and the JDL. Ruthless co-founder Jerry Heller said he enlisted help from the organization when he and Eazy-E were allegedly physically threatened into releasing artists from the label. Heller also mentioned the connection in his memoir, Ruthless.
“Eric Wright had a questing, restless mind,” Heller wrote. “He was always surprising me. ‘I want to do a movie about the JDL,’ he told me shortly before his death. He always had a hundred ideas going at once. He was obsessed with the Jewish Defense League and their motto, 'Never again.' 'Man, I can't get that out of my head,' he said. ‘Never again.’ That's dope.’”
In may of 1999, the FBI closed a two-and-a-half-year investigation on the JDL, citing an inability to corroborate the source information that spawned the probe. The FBI document also links Shakur and other unidentified victims to a separate extortion attempt by “a known organized crime figure,” whose name is omitted from the public version of the report.
“On October 17, 1996, a preliminary inquiry was initiated at Los Angeles Field Office to corroborate source information that [omitted], a known organized crime figure, along with a group of unidentified individuals were utilizing death threats in the furtherance of extortion attempts targeted towards two former prominent rap musicians from the Los Angeles area and other victims yet unidentified,” the report reads.
The full report, which is now public record, is available at the FBI website.