Eazy-E – Featuring… Eazy-E
Rap / Hip-hop
In the summer of 1995, at the apex of the West Coast gangsta rap era, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright succumbed to complications from AIDS at the age of 31. Wright has been lyrically deified by several rappers since his death, which is more than a little ironic since (a) he wasn’t much of a rapper in life and (b) it could be reasonably argued that his influence on the genre was equal parts positive and negative.
On Featuring… Eazy-E, his fifth posthumous release, some of Wright’s more obscure tracks have been gathered together. In fact, many are featured here for the first time in two decades. Unfortunately, as with most things quintessentially ’80s, time hasn’t been kind.
Eazy raps about two things: sex and killing. And, sometime around the release of 1991’s Efil4zaggin album, he’d exhausted anything interesting he had to say on the subjects. As a result, Featuring… Eazy-E is left with unintentional rap lampoons like “Black N*gga Killa” and “Luv 4 Dem Gangsta’z”—the latter only notable because it came from the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop III. How the hell did “Neutron Dance” hold up better than this?!
Oddly enough, some of the more comically awful material from N.W.A.’s second album is included—none of which has ever been that hard to find. “Findum, F*ckum & Flee” shows just how far the group had fallen as it embraced vulgarity simply because it could. See if you can tell the difference between that track, “I’d Rather F*ck You” and “Automobile”.
The album’s title implies that this is a collection of Eazy-E cameos and guest verses. But, really, if a rapper was inviting Eric Wright to make a song better, what’s that say about primary acts here?
Wait, I’ll answer that.
There’s MC Ren’s robotic flow on “2 Hard Muthas” and “Ruthless Villain”. Didn’t this guy have about 100 tracks called “Ruthless Villain”? DJ Quik (the 1992 version—a full 10 years before he became consistently listenable) pops up on two old cuts from the long-forgotten Penthouse Player’s Clique release. And, predictably, Eazy’s “For Tha Love of $” collaboration with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is front and center.
With all due respect to the dead, let’s not mince words. Eazy-E was in the right place at the right time as the planets aligned perfectly for him to become a star during the Ronald Reagan ’80s. He milked that fame for the rest of his short life. These older tracks only highlight Wright’s limitations as a rapper, without any of the historical context of his “best” work.