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The late Eazy E was the most integral part of N.W.A. Without Eric the group might not have ever come together and formed one of the most controversial forces in rap history. Eazy was a visionary and had the guts to go for what he believed in — whether in his personal life or career. With the Straight OUtta Compton smashing the box office, the time is right to get acclaimed with the motivation behind the world’s most dangerous.

To get a better understanding of his genius, VIBE honored the founding member of N.W.A. with a new digital cover and in-depth cover story. Veteran journalist Keith Murphy probed and flew from coast to coast to get the real story on Eric “Eazy E” Wright.

“There has been a blatant level of disrespect for my father in the music business,” says Eazy’s sonin a serious tone. “It’s a long time coming, but people are finally acknowledging who he was and what he did for this game.”

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Eric Wright, Jr. could not make out what all the fuss was about. This was not at all shocking considering that the six-year-old boy lovingly known as Lil’ E by friends and family had other priorities on his particularly focused mind. It was the summer of 1989 and at the fabulous Los Angeles Forum, Junior’s notorious father, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, was onstage performing with his provocative group N.W.A.—a five-man, gun-toting, censorship-igniting, F.B.I.-agitating crew brazenly self-billed as The World’s Most Dangerous Group.

For the purpose of this story, it’s best not to dwell on the question of whether a rap concert featuring arguably hip-hop’s most controversial group—who defiantly proclaimed themselves N*ggaz Wit Attitudes—was a suitable place for a child who would have trouble getting on the rides at Disney Land. Let’s just say Compton was in the house. And so was one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.

“I remember watching the show from the backstage,” recalls the rapper, who years later fittingly goes by the name of Lil Eazy-E. Although he is taller than his stocky 5-foot-5 pops, he shares his father’s strikingly deceptively, youthful gaze. “I was standing right next to Janet Jackson! I didn’t pay it any mind because I was really into the show. When we all got back home my uncle was like, ‘Well, guess who was standing next to Janet Jackson and didn’t say a word to her?’ My father would always clown me about that [laughs]. He was like, ‘How you gonna stand next to Janet and not say anything to her?’”

This Father Knows Best moment is brought to you by Eazy-E.

When fanboys and girls, the curious and skeptics packed theaters to see legendary hip-hop outfit N.W.A. in the big screen release of Straight Outta Compton [which hauled in a box-office busting 60.2 million dollars, shattering first weekend projections], onlookers witnessed the former drug dealer/unlikely rapper and Ruthless Records impresario’s very same impish spirit in all its Jheri curl, Raiders hat glory.

But it was far from all smiles. Lead lyricist O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson, groundbreaking producer, Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, the criminally underrated Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson, jovial Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby and enterprising visionary Eazy—who in 1995, shockingly died of complications from AIDS—raised a conspicuous middle finger at Ronald Reagan’s conservative white America that definitely wasn’t of the belief that #BlackLivesMatter. Suddenly, damn near the entire world was put on to Compton, the small yet troubled Los Angeles suburb of which N.W.A. proudly represented.

“I didn’t think a studio would have the courage to make [Straight Outta Compton]… not the way I wanted it made,” admits an in-a-daze Cube to VIBE. He is holding court at the Beverly Hills’ regal Four Seasons Hotel during a manic press day. A primary producer on Straight Outta Compton alongside Dre, Eazy’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright and the film’s veteran director F. Gary Gray, the Tinsel Town powerhouse is still getting used to the reality that the hell-raising story of N.W.A. has been given the Hollywood red carpet. “At any moment I was ready to bounce because it was like, ‘Yo, if we can’t do this right we shouldn’t do it at all.’”

Let’s get it out of the way. Cube gets ample credit (and deservedly so) in Straight Outta Compton for being N.W.A.’s chief wordsmith. In fact, compared to the lyrically gifted Mr. Jackson, Eazy had the lyrical prowess of a mischievous fifth grader who smirked incessantly after being sent to the corner for disrupting class. He didn’t write his own rhymes, still a cardinal sin within hip-hop–apparently unless your name is Drake. And E was totally devoid of the peerless production genius of Dr. Dre. But he had something else just as important: authenticity.

“He never seemed like he was playing a role,” recounts Black Eyed Peas leader Will.i.am, who was discovered and signed to Ruthless Records by Eazy in 1992. “When you listened to N.W.A. you forget that Cube went to college and that Dre was in an electro funk band called World Class Wreckin’ Cru. That’s how real Eazy was. He was the one in the group that really was driving the ‘64 and hustling drugs in the streets to survive.”

(via VIBE)

Related:
N.WA. Discusses The Importance of Eazy E To The Group