There is a lot to take away from Straight Outta Compton’s three week run in the box office but one thing that seems to stand out above all else is the introduction and re-introduction of Eazy-E. It’s been more than 20 years since the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap” died of complications from the AIDS virus (a fact that is disputed by many of his friends and family to this day)
The Frank Lloyd Wright of the Southland’s Hip Hop landscape, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright was laid to rest, and yet even after all these years, there remains a sour taste in the mouths of those that knew and loved the Compton-born MC.
To this day, fallen legends like Notorious B.I.G., Big L, Tupac Shakur and Jam Master Jay are celebrated (and rightfully so) with a reverence that has and will continue to ensure their immortality. But in the case of Eazy-E, it’s eerily similar to the legacy of a baseball player that was great, but was busted using steroids. It’s been a point of contention for years.
With Straight Outta Compton now enjoying it’s third consecutive week in the box office’s top spot, one of the effects worth celebrating is the fact that Eric “Eazy-E” Wright’s family and friends came together to ensure that the man behind the world’s most dangerous group got the shine that he’s earned over a quarter century of cementing the west coast’s place in hip hop history. In keeping with this theme of remembering how Eric Wright lived rather than how he died, HipHopDX reached out to as many people as we could find whose lives he touched. From fellow Compton Legend DJ Quik to former Wherehouse Music Violet Brown (yes, the same Violet Brown that told Steve Berman to shove the Marshal Mathers LP up his ass). Here are some of their stories.
Doug E Fresh
“I was at some club in New York City, I forgot the club. As I was coming in, Eazy-E was in the back and he was with a couple of guys with him and I was coming in and he seen me and I seen him, and we had never really met each other until this moment and I looked at him, he looked at me. He said ‘A yo man what’s goin’ on Doug?’ I said ‘What’s up E?’ He said ‘You good?’ I said ‘Yeah I’m good.’ It was just the most bizarre thing because I wasn’t going to the club and when I went in there and I went in the back I didn’t expect to see him in New York. I don’t even think he came out on the stage. He was just back there. And then you know, his vibe and everything was good and his energy was good and for me it was an interesting story because I never met him and when I went backstage me running into him was just a million-to-one. It was a beautiful time, and I was really sad about losing him because I thought he was such a brilliant artist and a brilliant business man. He took chances that nobody took and if it wasn’t for him a lot of things would be different. He was a very important factor across the board so much respect to his family and his children. It wasn’t common for you to see a west coast artist in new York City. You might see Ice-T because of his relationship with New York, but I would not have anticipated seeing Eazy-E there. It wasn’t a popular time when artists were going back and forth.”
“Easy was my playa patna. We was real close, real tight. I met Eazy at the radio station with Dominique Diprema. She was in the Bay Area working on a show called “Home Turf” on which they featured a lot of Bay Area artists like myself, Dru Down, Spice 1 and E-40 and The Click and she moved on from that show to The Beat in Los Angeles, I think. I came to do some drops for her at the radio station and guess who was in the building. Eazy-muthafuckin’-E. I’m like, ‘What’s happening?’ We chopped game, blew some trees. Got to pushin,’ started pushin’ like a pregnant lady in labor, doing a few stops together, the Lowrider Magazine you know. Eazy-E was a real playa though. That was probably ‘95.”
“I met Eazy touring but the illest part — here goes one dope story, though — me and Parish was doing a show in Anaheim, I think, [at this place that had] a round stage. So Eazy-E comes in the dressing room and was like, ‘Yo man, you and Parish got some problems.’ We said, ‘What you mean got some problems?’ He said, ‘We got some problems out there because y’all say crabs in y’all rhymes,’ and I guess crabs was something that they called the other gang members at the time. And we didn’t know that. So he said to me and P, ‘Y’all gotta be careful when you go out there’ He was just lying but he had us amped up that we had the gangs out there looking for us and we didn’t wanna go on stage. He was messing with us.”
“On our second album, we wanted to do a video. We were doing so many shows on the West Coast. We just called up Eazy-E, told him we needed his support, so he brought all the guys down and we shot the video. Part of it at The Palace and EPMD, some people in the beginning of our career didn’t even know we were from the East Coast. Because of “You Gots To Chill” they thought we were a West Coast group so that’s [been] one of our biggest moments.”
Big Daddy Kane
“First time I ever met Eazy-E and NWA we had some shows together. I believe they were in Detroit, Saginaw and Flint, Michigan. They shut it down. I mean they put on a helluva show and the energy and just the intensity… it was an amazing show. Only problem was they brought too many goons out. I like seeing women out in the front row, not a bunch of dudes (laughs) but they did their thing.”
“I was a buyer for Warehouse Music, and I first met Eazy-E at the Rodeo swap meet with Steve Yano and when he was doing the mixtapes for Steve Yano. I was a DJ and that’s how I came there every Saturday morning. We would come there to get our records. Dre would come there as well and I met him I guess before the whole NWA thing started and because I was a buyer for Wherehouse Music I was buying the product through Priority Records so Eric would come to see me all the time, anytime he had something new he would play it for me. He would give me tapes when he first signed Bone [Thugs n’ Harmony].
He brought them to my office first to meet me. That was a really great story because he brought them in his little [Suzuki] Samurai and they all started climbing out and I was like “Who are all these guys?” and it looked like a clown car with more and more people coming out. and it was Bone Thugs and he wanted me to meet them and he told me that they had come out here to meet him and he was trying to do as much as he could for them and he gave me a cassette tape and Eric always had different phone numbers all the time. So he gave me this cassette tape with a bunch of phone numbers on it. He goes, ‘Okay, call this number later if I’m not there call this other number I have to hear what you think of it. Call me tonight.’ So I went home I listened to it, I remember waking my kids up. They had to go to school the next day. I woke them up and I go, ‘You guys have to hear this. You have to hear what Eric just gave me. So I woke the kids up, made them listen to Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, they were wiping their eyes going ‘Okay, can we go back to sleep now?’
And then it wasn’t ’til a month later that they were going ‘Oh my God. That’s that group that you woke us up to listen to,’ but we used to go to the video shoots, to all the video shoots so, my partner here Carla and the kids, my kids went to all the video shoots. We hung out with Eric and Joyce Bragg who he was with at the time, knew all the kids, went to Disneyland for the kids’ birthday parties, went to Chuck E. Cheese in Lakewood for the kids’ birthday parties. Can you imagine going into a Chuck E. Cheese on a weekend afternoon and you look over and you see all of NWA, Jerry Heller and all these people sitting in Chuck E. Cheese for a kid’s birthday party? Yeah, that really happened in Lakewood, CA. I have so many memories of Eric. Unfortunately, he passed away on my birthday March 26. So, every birthday that I have, I think of him. I think of him often I miss him so much and I’m so excited about the Straight Outta Compton movie coming out. I just can’t tell you. I was on the set of the movie, checked it out and what I saw it’s gonna be a fantastic movie. The trailer is great. I can’t wait til Aug. 14 when the movie hits.”
“I grew up with Eazy-E, so I can’t remember when we first met but that was my dawg. Good dude, always kept it solid and to the max and was just a good person. He opened a lot of doors for a lot of people to be able to do what they’re doing right now.”
“I met Eazy with NWA a long time ago when he was with NWA we did some shows together. We had a good time he was a great dude”
I met him through his music first. Hi-C brought me a 12 inch and blew my mind, cause he was at the Rodeo Swap Meet with Cross? So, I wanted to meet him cause I loved that 12-inch “Boyz n’ Da Hood.” It had “Fat Girl On My Jock.” I was into the 12-inch, “Panic Zone.” This muthafucka NWA, the early NWA shit was ridiculous so I saw him, Ice Cube, Dre and Ren. No, Dre and Yella was at a party at I think Water The Bush. This was a club in LA like in 1988 or 89. Might have been early 89 and to see them walking through, I knew I wanted to meet Eric. He didn’t really fuck with me until I blew up and he wanted to sign me. He wanted to get me off Profile. He was like ‘Man, you West Coast, you don’t need to be on no East Coast label. Man Fuck that.’ And I was like, ‘E, I been wanting to sign with y’all, but y’all didn’t fuck with us. We was shooting our demo to Bryan Turner at mufuckin’ Priority and he was like ‘No, fuck them. I already got NWA’ so Eazy was like ‘Man, come on and he offered me a mil and tried to buy me out of my contract with Profile and I wanted it. I wanted to go with him because I was a loyalist like a Eazy-E, he was, the dude was so charismatic you had to just do whatever he said. Cause he was right. I’ve never seen him wrong about anything. Meeting him, it validated me. It made me realize that I was a fuckin’ star too, if I get to hang out with this muthafucka.
This is the biggest star I know. To this day he’s still one of the most prominent Hip Hop artists ever. If you think of ten people, he’s one of the ten and he’s been dead for twenty years. So, let’s just call it what the fuck it is. Eric Wright forever and I was so broken up when he got sick that I couldn’t go see him cause I was in shock. I felt like I didn’t do enough, like I wanted to save that n***a, like you know you wanna save n***as like that and you know, we’re just humans. We’re mere mortal mufuckas. I used to party with him and Guns n’ Roses. He took me to a Guns n’ Roses concert at The Forum and shit and took me racing in his muthafuckin’ sports cars, took me to his house. Both his houses…All three of his houses. Eric was my, man, I miss that n***a, it’s like a part of us is gone now that he’s gone, but now he lives forever through fucking Apple Music. I’m glad that they gave him a big station on Apple Music so it’s really not like he’s gone. He’s gone in person but we still laugh at his fuckin’ lyrics, we still wanna slap a bitch and drink some fuckin’ 8 Ball and say ‘Fuck the police.’ That’s what it is man, Eric forever. Love to Eazy-E. Eric fuckin’ Wright.”
“I met Eazy the first time at I think it was the LA Music Awards of all places. We got nominated for an award and won. It was 91-92 and he was at the award show and he introduced himself and it was kinda surreal because Eazy was one of the pioneers and he made his way over to us. Normally, you made your way over to a guy like that not the other way around. That was big to me. I’ll never forget that.”
“I remember the first time I ever saw Eazy-E. I think it was 1990 or sometime around then. Me and my friends were on the 110 freeway. We were young, one of the homies driving and it was a lot of us in the car. He was in a dope ass BMW on the right side of us and we were in the faster lane and we looked over and were like, ‘That’s Eazy-E.’ We slowed down and then he looked at us. He wasn’t scared or nothing he just looked at us and was like ‘What up.’ And, we were like ‘Yeah.’ I wouldn’t officially meet him until a couple years later and we shot the shit talked about being a parent and shit. That was my favorite memory just cause him being that idol that you look up to being from your city.”
“I met him one time. It was in New Orleans I think it was ’88, before Straight Outta Compton came out. They were doing a show and I met them backstage. I was 14 or 15 and I actually met him. There was a girl group that Eazy was gonna sign, I think he did sign them, called the Devastating Twinz out of New Orleans (they later became the Ghetto Twinz) and I produced some records for them. I met him and Dr. Dre and we chopped it up. The D.O.C. was there. He didn’t have a record out yet at the time. Eazy-E was like ‘Hey man I like your stuff. We need to get the girls out here and get you down to work with Dr. Dre.’ He was real cool. That was my one and only encounter with Eazy-E.”