Gangsta rapper Eazy-E dies less than 2 weeks after revealing he had AIDS virus
Eazy-E, whose rap group N.W.A, helped popularize the raw, “gangsta” rap, died recently of complications of AIDS, less than two weeks after announcing he had the deadly virus. He was 31.
The rapper, whose real name was Eric Wright, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical, where he was hospitalized Feb. 24 with asthma, the hospital said. In announcing his condition on March 16 (Jet, Apr. 3), Wright said he didn’t know how he contracted AIDS but wanted to warn “all my homeboys and their kin.” His hospitalization prompted so many well-wishing telephone calls the hospital had to hire more operators.
Wright’s attending physician, Dr. William Young, said he went on life support on March 15 and lost the ability to communicate several days before he died, with his wife, the former Tomika Wood, and his mother, Kathie Wright, at his side.
The rapper and his wife have a year-old son, Dominick, youngest of his children. Both Wood and the son have tested negative for the AIDS virus, Wright said.
A former drug dealer who claimed to have fathered seven children by six different women, Wright brought a brutal vision of Los Angeles-area ghetto life to popular art. N.W.A. which stands for Niggaz With’ Attitude, scored a hit in 1988 with Straight Outta Compton, using a thumping beat to tell crude tales of drive-by shootings, drugs and police harassment in the tough Los Angeles suburb.
The popular album’s foul-mouthed, hardcore themes knocked softer rap off the charts and sold more than 2 million copies despite lack of radio play.
N.W.A.’s follow-up record, 1991’s Niggaz4Life, sold nearly one million copies its first weeks of release to become the first hardcore rap album to hit No. 1 on the charts.
N.W.A eventually broke up amidst artistic and money disputes but proved hugely influential.
Wright went on to record the 1993 solo album It’s On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa. His Ruthless Records produced and supervised several other acts, including Above the Law, Things in Harmony, Blood of Abraham, MC Ren and Hoes with Attitude.
Critics called gangsta rap violent and sexist and said it promoted criminal violence. Supporters of the provocative music argued that it merely presented the grim reality of the inner city.
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