It was 20 years ago this week that Eazy E cruised to that great safehouse in the sky. I’ll never forget first hearing the news that he had AIDS and was dying in Cedars-Sinai. The radio station, 92.3 The Beat, kept public vigil. Dre and Cube and Bone Thugs reportedly filed in to pay last respects to the legend. The hospital was only about a mile from where I had Little League practice and a group of us debated wandering over before quickly realizing that we weren’t exactly wanted. So we got Slurpees and silently mourned the man who directly swayed our generation towards the charms of gangsta rap, Raiders jackets, and Kings hats.
You’ll probably read only a couple memorials to Eric Wright. He doesn’t receive the same reverence as 2Pac, Biggie, Dilla or Pun. It’s obviously because he was closer to a creative entrepreneur than a pure artist, but his shock value style and proto-trolling bears closer resemblance to the YouTube era than it does the charmingly antiquated “please listen to my demo” 90s. There’s no doubt that Eazy intuitively understood the future more than almost any of his peers.