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Dance Music History: Eazy E

“Hey Mister prankster prankster / Story book gangster / Back in 86 you wore pumps and mascara.”

It's a spat on record between Eric Wright and Dr Dre. The former uses the latter's early work with World Class Wreckin' Cru, a mid-80s electro-R&B act (if such a genre exists) as the target for ridicule.

Both hit the big time years before this was written performing together as part of the infamous rap collective N.W.A. Alongside Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella they formed a five-piece that stormed angrily into the spotlight with an attention grabbing, party starting, cop killing, gangsta blueprint of a album, Straight Outta Compton.

While their debut, N.W.A. and The Posse, failed to impact, 1988's aforementioned breakthrough record - the band's first album as a stand-alone outfit - made people terrified of South Central L.A. At the same time youth the English-speaking world over were captivated by this new(ish) sound, and the F.B.I. gave the band a warning to ‘ease up' with their anti-authoritarian sentiments. In addition to the moral outrage all was not well internally, and the next seven years would be punctuated by successive disputes between the various members, not least the man behind the lyrics above, Eazy E, until his death from AIDS in 1995.

Despite releasing his first solo LP, Eazy-Duz-It, in the same year as N.W.A.'s breakthrough record, E never managed another full-length disc. A second album finally arrived, post-humus, unfinished, and in the form of Str8 Off The Streets of Muthaphukkin Compton, a collection of tracks made memorable by his stereotypical marriage of over the top lyrics with a high-pitched, zealous delivery. Well received by fans and critics, it's the last chapter in an all too short story.

Boyz N The Hood:

His stand out qualities and unique style ensured a surviving legacy defined by tracks like Boys In The Hood, and his role setting up Ruthless Records (reportedly from drug profits). His impact on hip-hop has been huge, but really it's E's managerial prowess that is most impressive. While others clamoured to simply become famous he guaranteed serious dollars for himself from the other artists he backed, regardless of his own releases. Ever the entrepreneur, it was this position that gave rise to his mid-feud declaration that ‘Dre day just means my pay day', which isn't bad work for a high school drop out from the ghetto.

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