Wouldn’t it be nice if your own moral flaws actually worked for your benefit? Vanity earns you a promotion at work, greed obtains a new car for you, gluttony procures you a fantastic physique; seems like a ridiculous concept, eh? Well, as contradictory as it may seem, for the hip-hop business, the imperfections of one man would help to influence the genre’s future, and for the better I might add. “Who is this man, I’d like to shake his hand?" to quote Barry Mann
’s “Who Put the Bomp." The man is Eric Wright, but you most likely know him by his stage name: Eazy-E. Eazy’s constantly destructive actions towards his über-influential hip-hop crew NWA
led to the group’s eventual disintegration. This, however, proved to be a good thing, as the solo careers of members such as [l]Ice Cube[/i] would further the progression of rap music. They helped to define West Coast hip-hop, which in-turn, spawned a worthy counterpart in the form of East Coast hip-hop. This eventually trickled down south, and culminated in energetic, club-oriented rap styles. Hip-hop spread like wild-fire across the U.S., reinventing itself many times over. The ramifications that NWA caused upon their break-up had an astronomical impact on how they were viewed, and on the course of hip-hop music in general. You could essentially say that Eazy was solely responsible for the genesis of rap music as it is today.
How did Eazy stack up as a solo artist when compared to his NWA cohorts? He was roughly in the middle; more successful than some, less than others. Still, Eazy has become a hip-hop symbol, beloved by millions of fans. This is mostly due to Eazy’s death after a short battle with AIDS on March, 26th 1995. The first posthumous Eazy release, Eternal E
, is an excellent example of just how versatile a rapper he could be. It’s a “best of" collection, that features Eazy’s greatest NWA and solo songs. Eazy is mostly aided on the tracks by former NWA partners MC Ren
and Dr. Dre
. However, The D.O.C.
, Naughty By Nature
, Zig Zag
, CPO Boss Hogg
, and Kokane
also play important roles on Eternal E
. What you have here is a fantastic little compilation of some of the late 80s and early 90s greatest hip-hop artists working together to catapult Eazy to legendary status.
Of course, Eazy-E is in no way carried by his supporting cast. There’s no doubt about it; he’s a great MC. His traditionally high-pitched, generally scream-like rapping styles are present on many parts of Eternal E
, but the album also features plenty of calm, laidback vocal work from Eazy, further asserting his commanding presence on the mic. Eazy’s delivery reminds wonderfully varied, and keeps the sounds on Eternal E
fresh and funky. The songs to be found here are some of the wittiest lyrically you’ll ever come across in hip-hop. Most songs are based off of Eazy’s favorite subjects: sexual promiscuity, violence/murder, and drugs. However, each track is a unique expression of Eazy’s ever-creative wordplay. Eternal E
is a collection of some of the most whimsically amusing songs in rap, and that alone makes it a worthy record. Instrumentally, the album is wonderfully balanced. You’ll here everything from saloon-style piano lines, to guitar riffs in the vein of some of the hardest rock, to straight up samplings and beat box works. Actually, many of the songs on Eternal E
sample each other, allowing for different perspectives about each song to be drawn from listen to listen.
Each song brings something different to the table. The airwave emulation of “Radio" features some of the slickest rhymes, humorous spoken word, and one of the simplest (yet entirely appropriate) endings that a song can have. “Boyz-N-Tha Hood," an NWA classic, is a rare treat to be found on any album. The same can be said about “8 Ball," which was Eazy’s finest moment on NWA’s Straight Outta Compton
. “Eazy Duz It" is very similar to “8 Ball," as it draws heavy sampling from that song. It’s one of the more impressive of Eternal E
’s serious moments. “Only If You Want It" is a capricious little play on words, slurring “want" and “it" together by the “t" sound, forming…well, you catch my drift. “Eazy-Er Said Than Dunn" and “We Want Eazy" are both exuberant songs, that are both accessible and very enjoyable to listen to; mostly due to their 70s/80s-era club-pop mood (especially on the latter). “I’d Rather F*ck You" and “Automobile" are both debauched, sexually explicit songs that show that Eazy took himself less than seriously quite a bit. “No More ?’s" clearly draws influences from Ice Cube, as he is a featured act on the song. It has a distinctly Californian feel to it, and that’s a wonderful thing. Overall, the contents on Eternal E
impress on so many levels, that it will most likely entice you to explore each and everyone of the artists to be found on it.
Eazy-E may not be the greatest MC of all time, but he’s certainly among the most entertaining to listen to. Eternal E
is probably the only collection of gangsta rap that focuses more of levity than the seriousness of life on the street. Of course, Eazy stays true to his roots, but he definitely does comedy better. I can’t really recommend this compilation enough. Give it a listen just to hear how fun and stylish hip-hop can be, while still retaining its power and toughness. And besides, even if you don’t like the album, maybe the negative effect of purchasing is will work out for the best for you. Hey, we’re playing by Eazy’s rules now: anything can happen.