(Legacy of Gangster Rap)
9/7/63 – 3/26/95
Many credit Eric Lynn Wright aka Easy-E as being one of the founding fathers of gangster rap. Whether that acclaim is true of not, one thing is for certain; Easy-E of N.W.A produced some of the hardest tracks of gangster rap known in the late 1980's.
Easy-E who died in March 1995 became the topic of many heated arguments during his music career. Conservatives blamed him and gangster rappers such as Dr. Dre and Ice Cube for the increase in gang violence and assaults on police officers. Easy-E’s “F*&k the Police” rap song became notorious after the FBI wrote a threatening letter to Ruthless Records demanding that it stop promoting violence against law enforcement officials. The letter was ignored and Easy-E continued releasing even more violent tracks. “The feds should target their motherf&%kin concerns in preserving our freedom of speech instead of jackin us for it.” said Easy-E in a 1992 interview with X-plicit Rap Digest.
Easy-E’s start as a rapper began in the mid 1980’s when he and fellow Kelly Park Compton Crips began hanging out in South Central, LA street corners rapping to the beat of tin trash cans and graffiti ridden commercial window shields. During those times, his rap was simply intended to promote his street clique while disrespecting the gangs of others.
Soon after his street corner days were over, Easy-E helped form the phenomenal rap group N.W.A along with Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, M.C. Ren and Ice Cube. The Source, a hip-hop magazine, reported that the outrageous group used illegal funds acquired from neighborhood crack-cocaine dealing to finance the 4 track recording equipment they needed to operate their new label Ruthless Records.
NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” album was recorded in the garage of Easy-E’s parent’s home in Compton, California. Over 2 million albums were sold and thats when the world was officially introduced to an extreme style of hardcore rap never heard before. N.W.A was unique since the group went against the grain and cared little about following the trend of biting ones tongue. They rebelled and became the first known rap crew to boldly spit anti-police lyrics.
"Most rappers avoided speaking ill on the mic. Doing that could get a nigga dissed by main stream radio but E just didn't give a f*#k. He rapped what he felt and disliked comformity. says former Kelly Park Compton Crip Charlie "Zig Zag" Bristow. "
N.W.A broke up two years later due to a bitter business dispute between the groups founders. Easy-E's relationship with Dr. Dre soured causing the two to hurl insults to eachother in their following albums.
Controversy aside, Easy-E left a true legacy after his death and achieved what thousands of up and coming rappers could only dream of.