Today marks the 15th anniversary of the death of one of Compton's finest MCs, Eazy-E, who passed away on this date in 1995 after a short battle with AIDS. As the co-founder of both Ruthless Records and the rap supergroup N.W.A, Eazy's impact on the gangsta rap explosion of the late '80s and early '90s is immeasurable, both as a member of the Straight Outta Compton crew and as a solo artist. His high-pitched voice is also one of hip-hop's most unique and memorable deliveries, and the stark imagery of violence, drugs and life in Compton in his lyrics helped propel N.W.A, along with Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, to critical and commercial success.
Years after dissolving in 1991 amid inner turmoil and solo success, N.W.A was named one of Rolling Stone's Immortals: Greatest Artists of All Time. Additionally, Straight Outta Compton landed at Number 144 on our list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time — it also earned a perfect five-star review — and the controversial "Fuck Tha Police" made RS' list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. His verse on the D.O.C.'s "The Grand Finale" alone would be enough to catapult Eazy into the pantheon as one of the best rappers ever, but check out his solo masterpiece Eazy-Duz-It for further evidence.
Unfortunately, Eazy's last years were eclipsed by his very public beef with Dr. Dre, in the the above video, he appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show to badmouth "studio gangsters" like Dre and his then-up-and-coming protégé Snoop Dogg. Wearing his trademark black hat and sunglasses, Eazy emerges from backstage donning only underpants and a bathrobe before throwing insults in Dre's direction. Later, Eazy performs his G-funk classic "Real Compton City G's" — or "Real Muthaphuckkin G's (Dis to Snoop & Dre)" as it was called when censors weren't around — for the Arsenio audience. Thankfully, Eazy made amends with Dre before passing away.
Bonus Flashback: Eazy-E fires another salvo in his beef against Dre, telling MTV host Fab Five Freddy at the premiere of Chris Rock's "hip-hop Spinal Tap" film CB4 that the Straight Outta Compton crew would reunite without the services of Dre. "We're sucka-free in '93," Eazy quips. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg would later fire back with the not-so-subtle video for The Chronic's "Dre Day."
• The Immortals - The Greatest Artists of All Time: 83) N.W.A
• N.W.A. Outta Compton in 1989