Eazy-E was one of the founding members of the 1980s gangsta rap crew N.W.A. Alongside Ice Cube, Dr Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella, the Compton rapper made hip-hop history with his songs that shook up an entire nation, and a lot of his songs still live on to this day. However, akin to the legendary 2pac, the talented musician (real name Eric Wright) could also act.
Eazy-E was the iconic individual that birthed N.W.A in 1987, and helped co-found Ruthless Records alongside record executive Jerry Heller. However, when he wasn’t managing artists or making music of his own, he was auditioning for roles and exploring Hollywood.
As an emcee looking to diversify, Wright was in talks with directors and one individual that he interacted with was Allen Hughes. In an appearance on The Breakfast Club, the Hollywood insider spoke about the 1993 film Menace II Society and how Wright was initially approached for the project but also disclosed that a string of incidents led to the Compton rapper getting dropped.
It is well-known that Eazy-E and Jerry Heller were close friends as the founders of Ruthless Records. However, the two were quite toxic, and their behaviour was partially responsible for the dissipation of N.W.A. As Wright continued to push forward alongside Heller, he, fortunately, landed the role of O-Dog in Menace II Society. However, his toxic partner would soon interfere.
According to Hughes, Heller was persistent in his attempts to dictate the script and created an uncomfortable atmosphere. After months of Wright and Heller causing havoc, the director claims he was forced to cut ties with the rapper and ultimately decided to cast Larenz Tate as the hell-raising O-Dog.
Speaking with Charlamagne Tha God and DJ Envy of The Breakfast Club, Hughes explained, “We wrote that role for Eazy-E. Eazy-E was my first real OG mentor in the business, right [around] the summer when Dre left [N.W.A] in ’91. That’s a long story.”
He continued, “I learned everything from Eazy, but one of the things with him and Jerry [Heller] is they always try to keep you in a box and control you. And they were trying to control us in the script, and I just had to move on, and it was for peanuts.”
The director then proceeded to empathise with the frustrated members of N.W.A., unveiling, “I adore Eazy. He was so giving and so down-to-earth. By the way, great with his fans, too. Very patient with his fans. But I see why Cube left, I see why Dre left. There was a whole thing there.” You can watch Hughes speak about Eazy-E’s role in Menace II Society below.