One of the more unheralded legends of not only West Coast rap but hip hop in general, the legacy of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright has been unquestionable in Southern California. In fact, nearly every rapper – from Kendrick Lamar to even The Black Eyed Peas – can be traced back, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-style, back to Eazy-E. Unfortunately, his influence was almost rendered unrepairable following the battles he had endured post-N.W.A., from Ice Cube departing the group to the Death Row/Ruthless Records that at times turned physically violent. However, despite his tragic passing due to complications from the AIDS in 1995 his cultural impact was long cemented, and that impact was brought to life in the blockbuster biopic Straight Outta Compton, which raked in $60.1 million in its opening weekend.
With Dr. Dre and Ice Cube covering the Hollywood Reporter recently, VIBE Magazine dedicates their September 2015 digital issue. In their lengthy cover story, written by longtime scribe Keith Murphy, the magazine speaks to his son, musician and HIV activist Eric Wright, Jr., as well as Cube, Dre, will.i.am, Public Enemy‘s Chuck D, Murder Inc’s Irv Gotti, Nelson George and many more to reflect upon the fallen legend.
This is an well put-together, in-depth story that everyone should read. Some choice quotes:
Nelson George, on showing Eazy-E the Chris Rock-starring comedy CB4:
George, however, was totally won over during a meeting with Eazy, who made a scene-stealing cameo in CB4. “I showed him a picture of Chris as MC Gusto, who is basically wearing an Eazy-E outfit with the Jheri curl and Locs sunglasses. Eazy chuckled… he totally got it! I discovered that Eazy thought the whole thing was a joke. Not just CB4, but the outrage N.W.A. was generating. I just got the sense from him that he really enjoyed the theater part of it.”
will.i.am, on the impact N.W.A. had on him as a youth:
Listening to N.W.A was like kicking it with my homeboys down the street. It was somebody that you knew like your uncle or your cousin who was harassed by the police, face down and getting searched.
Eric Wright, Jr, on his father’s cultural sway:
Lil Eazy wants to set the record straight. Yes, he is appreciative of the good will that his father and N.W.A. have generated with the release of the Straight Outta Compton movie. He is tickled with irony that Oprah Winfrey, a noted opponent of gangsta rap, lauded Straight Outta Compton on Twitter, calling the film “powerful.” Lil E never forgets. “There has been a blatant level of disrespect for my father in the music business,” he states in a serious tone. “It’s a long time coming, but people are finally acknowledging who he was and what he did for this game.” Lil E says he plans to release a mixtape entitled Yellow Brick Road To Compton, an obvious tribute to his father who recited the very same line in the N.W.A. single “Appetite For Destruction,” as well as an Eazy-E documentary, alongside Tomica Woods-Wright. “I just want to reconnect with my father’s Ruthless Records legacy,” he says.
Red the entire article now at VIBE’s e-home.