Often overlooked by many is Eazy-E. Iconic for bringing the world NWA and Ruthless Records, Eazy-E also faced his fair share of hardships, media wise. At what was the height of his career, Eazy-E’s shady business dealings made headlines. Soon, his closest affiliates, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, became his biggest enemies.
Dr. Dre teamed up with Suge Knight, launching Death Row Records, and soon began releasing an onslaught of Ruthless Records disses. Given the popularity of Death Row, most fans sided with Dr. Dre and Death Row. While he experienced a drop in popularity, the money did not stop, as Eazy-E still profited off Dr. Dre, through the contract Ice Cube refused to sign.
By the mid-1990s, Eazy-E was nearly an afterthought, as Bone Thugz-N-Harmony was the only name keeping the Ruthless brand relevant. Soon, Eazy-E returned to the headlines, but it was not music-related. The West Coast pioneer revealed he was an AIDS victim and he died soon afterward. Before his death, Ice Cube had a chance to make amends with his friend and Dr. Dre came to visit him in the hospital during his final days, making peace with himself. However, the peace was not enough to save Eazy-E.
On March 26, 1995, Eazy-E died and the backlash ended, as sales in his music skyrocketed. The nostalgia over Eazy-E soon took a backseat, as hip hop lost Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. in the subsequent years. Still, hip hop has a soft spot for one of the legendary bad boys of the game. Without Eazy-E, the world may have never heard of Dr. Dre and all the talent he has brought to the table over the years, or Bong Thugz-N-Harmony, or Ice Cube and his popular brand of films and television sitcoms.
The impact Eazy-E has had on hip hop and entertainment, for that matter, goes well beyond himself and into those he helped reach fame and success. While Eazy-E may not be as celebrated as B.I.G. and Tupac, and is overlooked in March, his impact runs much deeper, as Eazy-E has influenced the people who influence the rap game as it is known. Because of this, seventeen years after his death, Eazy-E is still a big name in hip hop and is celebrated by the mjaor players in the game.