Eazy-E was a rapper that hip hop lost all too soon and was an integral part of the formation and acceleration of gangsta rap. As the rapper who voiced ‘Boyz-N-The-Hood’, Eazy-E was one of the most, if not the most integral member of N.W.A.
However, one thing that a lot of N.W.A fans don’t know is that before he died in 1995, Eazy-E was able to pocket some of the money being generated by Dr Dre’s 1992 debut album, The Chronic. A year prior to the release of Dre’s legendary debut album, the legendary producer had a bad falling out with Eazy and N.W.A’s manager Jerry Heller so decided to break off from Ruthless and form Death Row with Suge Knight and The D.O.C.
However, the way Dre broke away from Ruthless was messy, reckless and unprofessional, which led to significant problems when it was time for him to release his album. According to various reports of the encounter given by Eazy, Heller and other Ruthless employees, to coerce Eazy-E to release Dre from Ruthless Records, Suge Knight, accompanied by a mob of gang members, confronted Eazy wielding metal pipes and baseball bats.
Faced by Suge and his affiliates, the mob threatened the rapper, stating, “we know where your mother lives”, insinuating they would beat his mother. Frightened, Eazy signed the release form. However, This would not be the end, as the rapper would retaliate.
Taking the formal route, Eazy-E, as the CEO of Ruthless Records, would take legal action, filing a lawsuit against Dre, Suge and The D.O.C, to name a few. The official lawsuit was filed only months before The Chronic’s release and accused Dre and his entourage of “using force and threats to break recording contracts with Ruthless.”
Eager to not have any negative press surrounding the album’s release, Death Row’s parent label, Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope, pleaded with Eazy for some type of out-of-court settlement. After deliberations between Ruthless and Death Row, a settlement was reached. However, Dre would have to pay up.
The settlement would see Eazy pocket 10% of Dre’s production revenue, 15% of his solo record revenue, and as compensation, an instant cash payout. According to an interview conducted with record executive Doug Young for the 2015 book Welcome To Death Row: The Uncensored Oral History of Death Row, “Eazy was getting like 25 or 50 cents a copy for Dre’s Chronic album.” It is thought that by 1993, the rapper may have pocketed as much as $1.5 million from The Chronic.
You can listen to The Chronic in the video below.