Today, April 7, is a special day in the city of Compton. In 2008, the former mayor, Mr. Omar Bradley, declared this day “Eazy-E Day” in Compton, California. During the rapper’s funeral thirteen years earlier, Bradley spoke very highly of the Ruthless Records co-founder, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright.
Eric made Compton famous not just in California but all over the world,” he said. “I recognize Eazy as a young man who grew up on the streets of Compton – and brothers and sisters, we know it’s not easy growing up in Compton.
Ruthless Records is etched forever in music history. The company itself was trailblazing for Hip-Hop, but the acts they put out also truly changed the game. Among other things, the label is responsible for N.W.A, a collective that included Eazy-E and pioneered Hip-Hop’s explicit and aggressive sound still heard today. They even infamously received a letter for the F.B.I which expressed their disapproval of the group’s music. N.W.A is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ruthless was also home to J.J. Fad, the first female Hip-Hop act to go platinum via the success of their album, “Supersonic.” Their single (which shares that same name) also received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance the first year that was a category. And in the 90s, the label continued to thrive, most notably due to the popularity of Bone Thugs -N- Harmony. Their single, “Tha Crossroads,” even topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks. The success was bittersweet, though, as “Crossroads” was a tribute to Eazy, who died from AIDS in March 1995.
While the label hasn’t seen much activity in a little over a decade, its impact is undeniable, mainly due to Eazy—E’s influence, charisma, and business acumen. Lots of West Coast Hip-Hop stems from the work that Eazy put in, and Hip-Hop culture as a whole will always be indebted to him for that. Happy Eazy-E Day to all!
Rest in peace, sir. You epitomize the strength of street knowledge.