Compton's rap mogul and NWA founder Eazy-E hanging out with Michael? Unlikely. But it happened in 1991. Hear Dr. Dre (former Yo! MTV Raps co-host) explain Eazy's huge cultural impact, then hear Eazy's candid interview.
(This is the first of two episodes about Eazy-E. For the second episode, click here.)
Never heard of Eazy-E? That's odd. His video for Real Muthaphuckkin' G's has 343 million views on Youtube -- as of January 2023. For more music from Eazy-E and NWA, listen to my playlist of key tracks on Apple Music or on Youtube.
I was so proud that I contributed some of the photos for my 1992 book Break It Down, a collection of interviews with rap stars. Mine were right beside photos by one of the all-time greatest hip-hop photographers Al Pereira. So it kinda broke my heart when a rap fan complained that all the photos I took were too grainy. Oh, come on! I took the photo of Eazy at the top of this page in 1991 outside his recording studio in Torrence California. This was way before cell phones. All I had was a cheap one-shot camera, with film you had to send out to a developer. Grainy or not, I'm proud of it.
Before I clicked the shutter, I had fallen for all the hype about NWA. I was extremely jittery about being alone with Eazy-E. People suggested that I should worry about my safety. But in about two seconds, I realized that this was ridiculous. Out of 60 or so people I interviewed in the hip-hop world, I connected with Eazy the most. He was extremely open and honest. And even though we spoke different dialects, he taught me a vast amount about his music and his world.
Eazy, whose real name was Eric Wright, made a fortune and had a huge impact before his surprising death from complications of AIDS in 1995. He was best known for founding the gangsta rap group NWA in 1987, with Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren -- which was later chronicled in the 2015 movie Straight Outta Compton.
In case you're as surprised as Sally was that Dr. Dre came on our podcast to explain the importance of Eazy-E, you need to know a key detail. In the early days of hip-hop, there were two leading figures named Dr. Dre. One was a member of NWA. The other was the co-host of a pivotal show called Yo! MTV Raps, where many rap stars got their first promotion. That's the Dr. Dre who joined us. Seems as if MTV wouldn't allow clips of Dr. Dre's show on Youtube -- there are almost none. But here's one to give you a taste of it.
Something we didn't mention in the podcast episode: Despite Dr. Dre's eternally positive attitude, he has been greatly challenged in recent years. Because of severe diabetes, he lost his sight, and an uncontrollable infection led to the amputation of his leg. It's inspiring to watch an interview where he explains his health problems and how he is overcoming them.
Talking with Eazy-E helped me understand the sometimes misleading gap between a rap persona and a rapper's real life. For instance, even though Eazy was extremely open and personable, he lived some very rough years as a drug dealer. This was sometimes played up to the point of being comic, as in this promo sheet for Eazy-E's 1992 solo album, 5150 Home For Tha Sick. Of course, I saved it all these years...
Other rap stars of the early 1990s evolved in a different way. Compared with Eazy-E, Dr. Dre had a relatively stable early life. Dre got his start in music with a sort of disco rap group called the World Class Wreckin Cru. Only later did he take on the persona of a tough gangsta rapper -- taking that role more seriously than Eazy-E did.
When NWA and Ice-T introduced West Coast gangsta rap, they changed the dominant style of hip-hop. For one thing, lyrics got a lot rougher. But in 1990, the hip-hop song that originally caught my attention was much milder. I got a press release about MC Shan, a Queens rapper who started out with a kind of rap dance music. My favorite song wasn't considered cool enough to get a lot of love from rap fans. But Shan's young peppy voice and his lively rhymes still make me happy.
By contrast, the NWA songs we quote in the episode are so full of controversial content that Youtube doesn't allow them to be embedded on other sites. But if you're interested, you can listen on Youtube to a few that we mention in this episode:
Straight Outta Compton
Fuck Tha Police
One detail about NWA that can't be ignored -- the N-word represented by the N in their name. It was a major shock in 1987 when they used that word so frequently in their songs. Back when I interviewed Eazy-E, it was considered okay for me to use that word in the context of the group's name and lyrics. But now we want to be more careful about it, which presented a challenge. It's very difficult to discuss Eazy-E and NWA without quoting their use of the word. But we did our best -- and hope we adequately expressed the respect that we feel for Eazy-E and his work.
I know. I know. I should digitize my Eazy-E tapes and throw them out. But I can't let go of this proof that I experienced the contrasts -- and similarities -- between my own insular world and the world of Eazy-E. Nope. Can't throw it out yet.
Want to hear the next episode about Eazy-E, including details about his surprising death and an exclusive interview during 1992's L.A. riots? Listen here.
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Will anything get tossed? Could happen. THANK YOU for listening!
I Couldn't Throw It Out, Podcast Episode 7
Part 1: Gangsta Rapper Eazy-E and Me, Part I [Explicit]
THEME SONG EXCERPT
I couldn't throw it out
I have to scream and shout
Before I turn to dust
I've got to throw it out
Before I turn to dust
I've got to throw it out
END OF THEME SONG EXCERPT
MICHAEL SMALL: Hello Sally Libby!
SALLY LIBBY: Hello Michael Small!
MICHAEL: Hey Sally. This episode of I Couldn't Throw It Out might be described with two words: Highly unlikely. Let's start with this question: May I describe you as a 65-year-old mom and dog lover?
SALLY: You may.
MICHAEL: And yet you just watched a particular movie, which in your case was… highly unlikely. What was the name of the movie?
SALLY: It was called... Straight Outta Compton.
MICHAEL: And what was it about?
SALLY: The rap group NWA. And how they started gangsta rap.
MICHAEL: And what did you think?
SALLY: Good movie. Fuck the police!
MICHAEL: See! I always said you were a fast learner. And why did you watch it?
SALLY: Because you made me.
MICHAEL: And why did I make you?
SALLY: Because you CLAIM to be a friend of Eazy-E.
MICHAEL: Okay. So that's also highly unlikely. And it's an exaggeration. I wasn't Eazy-E's friend. I was friendly with him. There's a difference.
SALLY: After seeing that movie, I can't believe you knew Eazy-E.
MICHAEL: Well I've got proof. In 1993, I called Eazy-E for a phone interview. It was the fourth interview I did with him. And, in my box, I found that tape. I want you to play you one little clip. You have to listen carefully above the clacking of my keyboard. But try to focus on the first thing that Eazy-E says.
RECORDED INTERVEW STARTS
EAZY-E: It's like this, Mike
RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS
SALLY: That was a lot of clacking. But I think I heard him call you "Mike." Did he really?
MICHAEL: He sure did.
SALLY: Well, MICHAEL. How did that ever happen?
MICHAEL: As with so many things, the answer can be found in one of my boxes. Here it is. Yet another one of my ancient audio cassettes. This one includes my first interview with Eazy-E -- for my book about rap music.
SALLY: Break It Down.
MICHAEL: I love that you always remember the title. But you didn't actually read it, did you?
SALLY: I meant to read it. But life got extremely hectic.
MICHAEL: For 30 years? (laughter) If you read it, you might understand that this interview is a treasure. I didn't realize it at the time but Eazy-E was probably the most influential person I interviewed for my book. What he did with NWA changed the whole course of pop music.
SALLY: Now that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration.
MICHAEL: Really? How 'bout this? I checked a list of the most popular songs of 2021 and 2022. And many of those songs had one thing in common. They all included the F Bomb. Now, what was the most famous song to break that barrier?
SALLY: Fuck the Police!
MICHAEL: Exactly. I set you up for that. I know how much you love saying it. And, since NWA broke up 30 years ago, how many rap songs have there been about guns, gangs, murders, police brutality, rough life in the inner city?
About a million?
MICHAEL: Something like that. Whatever you may think of it, NWA was the first to bring those topics to a huge audience. And it all started because their songs were based on Eazy-E's experiences as a drug dealer.
SALLY: That doesn't exactly sound like a badge of honor.
MICHAEL: Well, how many drug dealers stopped committing crimes and used their money to start a hugely successful music label – a label that launched stars like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre?
SALLY: That's quite a feat.
MICHAEL: It is. But I bet at least half of our friends don't even know the name Eazy-E. And that's pretty strange. Because NWA's albums and Eazy's solo albums sold huge amounts -- in the multiple millions. And they're still popular today. Here's an example: the song "Straight Outta Compton" – guess how many views the video has on Youtube?
SALLY: I don't know. 30 million?
MICHAEL: 151 million. You were off by 121 million. There's a song off of Eazy's 1993 solo album called "Real Mutherfuckin' Gs." It has 331 million views on Youtube. And that's up about 40 million since last year. To give you some perspective, I looked up Britney Spears Oops I Did It Again. That song had 387 million views. So Eazy-E is right up there with Britney!
SALLY: I had no idea.
MICHAEL: It's crazy that so many people don't know about this – especially considering all the controversy. Because of the lyrics, NWA's second album was banned by a record store chain – a big one -- in the south, and supposedly it was confiscated in England by Scotland Yard.
SALLY: They just wanted some free copies.
MICHAEL: That would have been a smart move – those original records are probably worth something now. Because now it's all about the honors. I got a little info from Mr. Wikipedia. He told me that the album "Straight Outta Compton" was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2017. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. And, in 2015, it inspired that movie you saw. That movie grossed $201 million in the U.S., and was nominated for an Oscar for the original screenplay.
SALLY: That's a lotta hoopla.
MICHAEL: Even the movie was controversial. Many people thought it as a documentary. Is that what you thought?
SALLY: Yeah. I did.
MICHAEL: But it definitely wasn't. Many details in the movie were contested, especially by Eazy's former business partner Jerry Heller. When he died of a heart attack, one of his suits hadn't been settled yet.
SALLY: Was the part about Eazy-E's death true? Did he really die off AIDS?
MICHAEL: He did. And he was only 30. And it all happened so quickly, in just a few months. Nobody saw that coming. Eazy-E didn't see it coming. And it shook the rap world. There was a ton of controversy about his will. Strange details about his final days.
SALLY: Does your interview include any revealing information?
MICHAEL: Yes! I'll play you the interview. But first I want to give you some background, to help you understand how this cassette tape got into my possession. Follow me, if you will, in the way-back machine to 1990 when I was writing music reviews for PEOPLE magazine.
SALLY: Don't tell me you were reviewing rap records. You knew nothing about it!
MICHAEL: That's for sure. But the record labels kept sending me more and more rap music every day. And I wanted to give it a chance. But when I listened, I just didn't get it. The audio samples. The beats. The lyrics. Whoosh. Right over my head.
But one of those rap CDs came with a press release about an amazing guy named Tyrone Williams.
SALLY: I suppose you're gonna say that I should know who he is.
MICHAEL: Well, not in this case. He's was kinda behind the scenes. When he graduated from Howard University, he ended up in Queens (New York) where he gathered a bunch of local kids and helped to transform them into rap stars. They were called the Juice Crew – and it included Biz Markie, MC Shan, Roxanne Shante, Marly Marl, Big Daddy Kane. I was so impressed that I convinced PEOPLE magazine to let me do a story about them. I learned so much from those interviews. But when it came time for the photo shoot, it was a total bust. The rappers thought the PEOPLE-style poses were too corny.
SALLY: Because they were!
MICHAEL: All I know is that the photos of these really interesting people came out totally boring. So my story was canceled. I was so frustrated. But that's when I decided to turn it into a book.
SALLY: But how could you write about rap when you knew nothing about it?
MICHAEL: That was the whole point. My idea was to get the experts – the people who made the music – to explain rap to people like me so we could understand it and enjoy it too.
SALLY: Did anyone say, "No! I don't want to talk with you. Go the fuck away!"
MICHAEL: Actually, almost everyone was extremely generous. At first, I talked with some of the most famous people at the time – like Public Enemy, Run DMC, Queen Latifah – and after that, everybody gave me a chance. But even though I had the closest connection with Eazy-E, I still don't quality as an expert on his music. So I've got a treat for you. I arranged for a special guest who is way more qualified than I am – and really more qualified than almost anyone in the world – to talk about the importance of NWA and Eazy-E. And his name is… Dr. Dre.
SALLY: No. You got Dr. Dre on our podcast?
MICHAEL: Yes I did. But there's something you should know. In the hip-hop world, there are two people named Dr. Dre.
SALLY: Is this some kind of trick?
MICHAEL: No. I'm serious. Back in 1990, there was the Dr. Dre in NWA who later went on to sell excellent headphones. But there was also another extremely famous Dr. Dre who was the co-host of a TV show called Yo! MTV Raps Today, and it aired every weekday. Did you ever see it?
SALLY: C'mon. You know the answer to that.
MICHAEL: Well, that show was one of the only places to hear and watch videos for rap songs. Now this Dr. Dre from MTV – he and his co-host Ed Lover were at the center of the hip-hop world. He knew everyone. He knew everything. And he still does. So he's waiting for us to call. Let's go to the phone, shall we?
SALLY: We shall!
MICHAEL: One moment please...
PHONE INTERVIEW STARTS
MICHAEL: Hello, Dre! Thank you so much for joining us on our podcast. It's really an honor.
DR. DRE: Thank you. Thank you. I am so blessed. Thank you.
MICHAEL: Sally, say hello to Dr. Dre.
SALLY: Hi Dr. Dre.
DR. DRE: Hey, Sally. How you' doin'?
SALLY: I'm doing well, thank you.
DR. DRE: Alrighty. "I knew a girl named Sally/She lived in the valley." Me being very corny.
SALLY: But they found her in an alley.
DR. DRE: I said I would be corny – don't you be corny!
MICHAEL: We are now going through my interviews with Eazy-E and we really want someone with more expertise than I have to help give us some perspective about his music, his life and NWA. So Sally, I believe you have some questions for the Doctor. So do you want to go ahead and ask the first question.
SALLY: Okay. So the first thing I want to know is, can you explain why NWA was such a big deal?
DR. DRE: Can I explain why NWA was such a big deal? The reason why NWA was so important at that time is because they said some things that people may have thought but were afraid to put on a record in that fashion. NWA became influential because they had a song that pretty much had you tailed by the FBI, which was called Fuck Tha Police. So when you make a song called Fuck Tha Police… "Comin' straight from the underground/Young man's got it bad 'cause he's brown." You know, pretty much that's a significant thing on a record. And remember, at this time, a lot of their music wasn't played on the radio. Even when they did a solo album with Eazy-E with Boyz in the Hood or even with NWA's earlier songs, they were not geared for radio. NWA's strength and the reason they became so popular was this television show called Yo! MTV Raps Today and Yo! MTV Raps with Fab 5 Freddie. Because you visually got to see who they were. And their music got played. So no, you couldn't get away with doing "Fuck That Police" or "Straight Outta Compton" "Crazy MF called Ice Cube/He's down with the N's with an Attitude." And they were the first ones to be able to put Nigga in the name of their group, and people were in shock. That's why they were such a big deal.
MICHAEL: Did they have a radio edit for you to play?
DR. DRE: Yes, they did. For certain songs. And some things I was able to beep it out or scratch over it before the curse came in.
SALLY: What about Eazy-E? Was there something special about him?
DR. DRE: He was a unique figure. He was the financing that brought NWA financially – with their manager Jerry Heller – to the world. As far as Eazy as a rapper, most of his stuff was written by Ice Cube and MC Ren. So he wasn't really like a writer. He just did his experiences and Ice Cube and Ren kind of tweaked it up and he was able to actually go on a microphone. He was reluctant at first. But that was his personality. He was kind of low key. But he also was a very fun loving guy, very interesting character. So, I just want to say, as far as a musician. Where you're talking about a record company owner, a producer etc., that's how I interpret what Eazy-E was about.
MICHAEL: One thing about Eazy-E as a rapper was his performance. He seemed to be extremely popular. People were screaming his name. Do you think he kind of made himself into a character that was very appealing?
DR. DRE: Absolutely. You gotta understand something. He had a Napoleon complex. He was very short. But he was also very appealing to young ladies. He was a good-looking guy. You know, he also was in a business that people wanted to participate in. And he did a very good job at it, obviously. He was very personable. You can't take that away from him. But when it comes to his performance, you give credit to Dre and the company they put together to produce Eazy-E and NWA. They knew what sound he needed to work it out. They worked really well as a team. They knew what they were trying to accomplish. I should know because in some of their early music, they sampled my group Original Concept. Songs like Pump That Bass. Songs like Acknowledge Me. So I feel like I'm a little part of NWA in my own infinite way. So God bless.
MICHAEL: One of the other things you alluded to – the N in NWA stands for a very racist word. But they put it in their name and I counted, in one of their songs, they use that word 63 times. Can you tell us why they wanted to use that word? And what do you think of them using that word?
DR. DRE: Well, the word n-i-g-g-a that they use was a term of endearment that when we speak amongst each other, we would say, "Yo. That's my nigga." I would say because of their upbringing and where they grew up, there was no racist thought in that fashion. They actually used it as a way to try to normalize the word. Me, myself, have I said that word in public? Absolutely. Have I said it on a record? No I did not. Do I agree with them having to say that to sell or be a part of what they did? Yes I do. Because in the United States of America, we all have First Amendment freedom of speech rights.
MICHAEL: Sally and I are definitely in a situation where we do not want to do anything disrespectful. But one of the things we want to do is to quote their lyrics, talk about their songs. And I guess my question for you is if that word that begins with N is in the lyrics, should I just say N instead of the word? Can I say the word if I'm quoting lyrics? What's the right thing for me to do in that case?
DR. DRE: The right thing for you to do is what's in your heart. You can say "The N word." You can say, "I quote NWA and they said 'Nigga. Da da da da…" You're quoting their words. But if you want to be respectful and that's not in you, you just say, "N word… this…". People know what you're saying. You're not trying to sensationalize it. We get hung up on words sometimes and not on the real meaning of what we're trying to discuss. That's the whole point of what that group was about – and that name.
MICHAEL: That was one of the most helpful answers to the question I could have imagined. I'm really grateful to you for that. And I want to segue into talking a little bit about some of their lyrics. I'm just gonna say N instead of that word because that's what's in my heart.
DR. DRE: If that makes you feel comfortable, please, go ahead.
MICHAEL: This is the opening lyrics to the song "N for Life." What they did is they take the voice of their critics and put it in the song. So it goes like this…
Why you brothers insist on usin' the word nigga?
Don't you know that's bringin down the black race?
Personally I think the lyrics are a bit too harsh
I ain't no nigga, fuck that shit
Does everything come out your mouth got to be a 4-letter word?
The way you talk about women is bullshit, plain bullshit
Motherfucker I got kids, I don't want 'em listenin' to that bullshit
SALLY: That’s in the song?
MICHAEL: Absolutely. And then they actually give an answer:
Why do I call myself a nigga you ask me?
Because police always wanna harass me
Every time that I'm rollin' (rollin')
They swear up and down that the car was stolen (this shit is stolen)
Make me get face down in the street (in the street)
And throw the shit out my car on the concrete (yeah)
In front of a residence
A million white motherfuckers o n my back like I shot the President
That's the opening lyrics to the song "N for Life." Sally – does that surprise you?
SALLY: Yeah. It does. I understand "Fuck Tha Police." But then when they start getting down on women and, you know, such a huge emphasis on money, I mean, I kind of understand that… But it just seems divisive and it's sort of bringing down a culture. But hey, there's a lot of different cultures so… I don't know. I don't want to sound like Tipper Gore, but…
DR. DRE: Well, I lived through the Tipper Gore era. And let me explain to you about the misogynist view on their records. Is it any more misogynist than the Beatles? Is it anymore misogynist when, uh…
DR. DRE: Let me finish.
SALLY: But the Beatles didn't sing about whores.
DR. DRE: They did in their way. At their time. Yes they did.
SALLY: Are you sure?
DR. DRE: Yes. I'm a very big Beatles fan. I'm a very big fan of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, George Harrison. In their way, they did. In their way. Of that time. Did they celebrate women? Yes they did. Did they put women down? Yes they did. There are songs that…. "She's got a ticket to ride/My baby don't care." What do you think that song is about?
DR. DRE: Ah! But they just changed the lyric to make it appealing to you. They sang about money. "Can't buy me love/I'll buy you a diamond ring my friend/If it makes you feel alright/I'll give you what I've got to give/If it makes you feel alright." What about the Rolling Stones? "Please allow me to introduce myself/I'm a man of a certain taste." "Sympathy for the Devil" – oh, that sent out shockwaves when they came out with that. So now all NWA did is whittle out the nicety and come directly to the point. That's all they did. What NWA was doing was speaking from their point of view, from their experiences, and saying, "This is what we feel." So that's why when "I'm just being an N for Life," they know what they're talking about. They said, "We have nothing to lose. We're not gonna get on the Tonight Show." They used to say that about Frank Sinatra. He sang about money and women. "That's why the lady is a tramp." Come on! He does that like "that's why the lady is a bitch." But he knew he couldn't take it anywhere with that.
MICHAEL: But Dre, what about "One Less Bitch" in which it involves a gang rape and then a murder. And then you've got the other one "To Kill a Hooker" where they shoot a woman and then they complain that her guts are all over the seat of the car and it's making a mess. I mean, that's pretty extreme.
DR. DRE: But were they extreme? To my knowledge – and I followed them from youth to where they are today – I don't know if any of them ever committed a murder like that. Or were they expressing something they had seen, heard, witnessed, was told about. And expressed it in a song. So you get a picture of what Compton life was for them. In the same thing, where if you watch a movie where you see a woman raped, are you advocating for raping? Or are you advocating for a woman to be protected from domestic violence? You see, it kind of works the same. But one's on film as a filmmaker. The other's in music to a rhythm track. So that's where we really are. So when you're listening to those song that you're speaking of with those lyrics, you have to be the judge and jury of that. They're just expressing to you the story.
MICHAEL: Wow. That is a lot to digest. And there was something you said in response to my question about the "N for Life" song. And I want to read another part of that song because it kind of overlaps with what you were saying. After that initial intro where, you know, they basically quote their critics against them, they have two responses that I think are worth mentioning – that sort of fit with what you said. The reason why I'm doing this is because I think people could see the title of the song, hear the sound of the song and immediately write it off. Right? But there's something going on there that for me – when I studied it – really taught me a lot. It says…
Why do I call myself an N you ask me?
Because my mouth is so motherfuckin' nasty
Bitch this, bitch that, N this, N that
In the meanwhile my pockets are gettin' fat
Gettin' paid to say this shit here
Makin' more in a week than a doctor makes in a year
So why not call myself a N?
It's better than pullin' the trigger and goin' up the river
And then I get called a N anyway
Broke as a motherfucker and locked away
So cut out all that bullshit
Yo! I guess I'll be a N for life
DR. DRE: You have to ask yourself only one question after that: Was he lying? Now you see the result of all that we were discussing. Was he being someone looking into a crystal ball? Or was he expressing to you his experiences of what was going on? For real. He could have spent 10 years to become a real doctor, a surgeon and this that and the other, and couldn't have made the same kind of money he made getting on the microphone for an hour. And saying this to people and people saying, "Hey, I totally agree with you. I know what you're speaking of." But remember one thing about NWA, Eazy-E, and Dr. Dre and the whole gangsta rap movement, as far as that concern, the greatest supporters of their music were white people.
SALLY: I didn't know that.
DR. DRE: Black people didn't buy records. We taped it off the radio. We made a copy from a copy. Because we didn't have disposable income. That's facts. There's no billionaire rapper that made it based on the fact of black and brown people. Facts. Doesn't work that way. Not especially at that time. And that's why when we go back to discussing where was their legion of fans, where did that come from? Yo MTV Raps and Yo MTV Raps Today. Because MTV was everywhere. We had everybody and their mother want to be on that show. Mel Gibson was on our show. Howard Stern was on our show. Everybody and their mom wanted to be on that show. Adam Sandler hung out with us while he was doing Remote Control. Everybody. Because we brought what you didn't know to your bedroom, to your living room, to your kitchen. And you sat there with jaw down. "I can't believe this is going on."
MICHAEL: Going back I just want to read one more lyric. This is another verse from that song. It says…
Why do I call myself a N you ask me
Because the police always want to harass me
Every time that I'm rollin'
They swear up and down that the car was stolen
Make me get face down in the street
And throw the shit out of my car on the concrete
In front of a residence
A million white motherfuckers on my back like I shot the president
You know that seems prophetic now. At time, you know, we weren't as aware. We hadn't seen all the videos we've seen of police brutality.
DR. DRE: I can attest to that, being in Los Angeles for a period of time. And my assistant who was working with me – his name was Sal – we were driving a big luxury vehicle. And I got pulled over by the police. And I was like, oh okay. And I gave them my license. I gave them the rental agreement for the car. And he said, "Get out." And I said, "What did I do?" And he said, "Get out the car now." And Sal was shaking his head, going "Just get out the car. Get out the car." And they sat me on the curb, put my hands under my butt and checked the car. And I said, "Are y'all kidding?" They said, "You say two more words and we'll take you in." And Sal just kept looking at me, shaking his head and said, "Don't say nuthin'." And they were like, "Okay, boy." And, like, they knew who I was. 'Cause one of looked at my license and said, "Yo. That's Dr. Dre." 'Said, "I don't care who the fuck he is. He can go be Dr. Dre in jail tonight." And he went and he took my license and he said, "You know, your license is suspended." I said, "No it's not." "Yes it is." "No sir, I have the paper in my wallet." "I don't believe you. You can't drive this. We're gonna tow it." He looked at my friend and said, "Do you have a license?" And he said, "Yes." "Let me see it." He checked it out and said, "You can drive. He can't drive." And I had the paper in my wallet with my license that said my case was dismissed. That reality… And that happened years after "F- Tha Police" came out. So when Sal was driving me back and I'm looking out the window, he's like, "What's the matter?" I said, "I gotta get the fuck out of California. I can't live like this. I got enough of this shit where I come from. This is crazy." He still gave me four tickets for a suspended license that I have to fight. I had the paper in my hand saying "This case was dismissed." And I couldn't make a copy. I couldn't text it in. I couldn't email it. I had to wait there, go to a court, sit for hours, to show it to a judge who said, "Well, why didn't you show this to the officer?" I said, "He wouldn't let me take it out of my wallet." "Why not?" "I'm not the officer. I'm not arresting myself." So the first thing I did that next day is I called the rental place. I said, "Get me the smallest car you got. I don't care if it's used. I’m not driving this car around no more." And I never again in Los Angeles drove a luxury car. Nope. Not gonna do it.
DR. DRE: Not gonna do it. I wasn't doing anything. I was at a red light. The light turned green. I went through the light. The lights went on behind me. So when you hear that experience and then you live through it – and you wonder why they have legions of fans all over the world. 'Cause that happens.
MICHAEL: I don't think we can top what you just did. And I don't want to take much more of your time. But one other thing I want to ask. You mentioned your book. Tell us a little more. What's the title? And when is it gonna be out? And all that.
DR. DRE: The book is called "Yo! Bigga Stuff. The Dr. Dre Episodes from 1989 to 1995." This book is about Yo! MT Raps and it tells about my personal journeys and experiences that happened there. We're trying to put it out in 2022. Originally it was gonna come out in 2019. Then this crazy little thing called Covid came out. And I want to be able to go out and sign autographs to people directly and not be in a hazmat suit with a Sharpie. I want to be able to go out and meet some of the people. And basically, this section of the book is about my life with Yo! MTV Raps, to my life as being a Beastie Boys DJ, on the road with Raising Hell, with Run DMC, which I wrote a song on that album with my group Original Concept, called Proud to be Black to my first album being released. Came out a year before Straight Outta Compton. That's another story. But that’s the story of my book.
MICHAEL: Wow. That is so impressive. I can't wait to read it.
SALLY: I know. Can't wait.
DR. DRE: My friend Chuck D was the one who inspired me to do it. Well, basically, I should say he took my left arm and said, "I'm gonna break it! Write the book!"
We just thank you so much for joining us. It was really enlightening. And we really learned a lot.
DR. DRE: You're so welcome. And, Sally, it's a pleasure to meet you. And I'm glad that you finished that "Sally from the valley" and you continued to bring the corn to the table. Because I wasn't going down that road.
SALLY: Thank you so much. You're so fascinating.
DR. DRE: You guys have a great blessed day. Peace and love. Namaste.
SALLY: Oh, it was great. Namaste.
PHONE INTERVIEW ENDS
MICHAEL: We learned so much from that!
SALLY: Yeah! Dr. Dre is amazing. So now I got the fictional story from the movie and the real story from Dr. Dre. Will you finally say that I'm qualified to hear your Eazy-E interview?
MICHAEL: Almost. I just need one more minute to set the scene....
It's the summer of 1991. Eazy's 27 and I'm 31. Eazy asked me to meet him outside his recording studio in Torrence, which is outside L.A. So we sat on a bench by the side of the road. Right away, he surprised me. He was so good-natured and so straightforward. He seemed to trust me. Maybe it's because we were almost the same height. I'm 5'4". He was 5'5". He could look me straight in the eye. Nothing I said bothered him. He was totally Eazy-going.
SALLY: Hey, you are not allowed to pun. That's my turf!
MICHAEL: Just letting you know what it feels like. Anyway, he wasn't at all what I expected. Turns out, Eazy himself was from a surprisingly stable background. His parents stayed together. His dad worked for the post office for 30 years. And his mom worked for a Montessori School.
SALLY: Really? That doesn't match the song lyrics.
MICHAEL: Eazy was complicated. And Compton was complicated, as Eazy explained to me. One last thing before we listen: Just to be clear: I didn't edit any of Eazy's answers to my questions. But I did cut out some parts of the interview and reorder it a little so it makes more sense. And if you're wondering why I keep talking about DJ Quik – he also came from Compton and was a friend of Eazy's. I really liked him a lot, although he did pull out a gun while we were driving on the highway. But that's another story. So let's hear this one – which is about 25 minutes long.
RECORDED INTERVIEW STARTS
MICHAEL: You know, as I said, I've been hearing a lot of things about NWA and I want to get your reaction to some of the things I've heard. Several people said to me – NWA, Eazy-E, on that record, these people are actors. They're playing a role. That's not the real Eazy-E. He's acting.
EAZY-E: Is that right?
MICHAEL: Do you think that's true?
EAZY-E: Nah. Most of it is bullshit, you know. A lot of shit we talk about is real shit or some shit that could happen or did happen. You know, I want to rap about the shit that I've been through and I don't like to candycoat shit, you know.
MICHAEL: Now I was curious about some of the things you've been through. For instance, were you in a gang?
EAZY-E: I mean, I run with gangs and everything. I've been through little drive-by shootings, and the dope game and everything.
MICHAEL: Did you ever sell any?
EAZY-E: Of course.
MICHAEL: What did you sell?
EAZY-E: Keys. Gang of it. 30,40 thousand, fast as you could count it. Send them on their way. 50 thousand here. 10 thousand here. Shit like that. And then my cousin, he ended up getting killed, and everything. And a lot of my friends ended up getting killed. My cousin got set up. And then I thought about, like, leaving the shit alone because it wasn't worth it. So I stayed into it for a while. You know, I saved up a bunch of money. And decided to go another route. So Dre said, "You know, we could hook up some, start a record company, you know, to make you some money." So I said, fuck it. I did it. Which I never rapped in my life, 'cause I was all into street shit. I'm sellin' this. Doin' this. Stealin' cars. Doin' this to make me some money, you know. So we started the record company, which I thought wasn't gonna work. And me, myself, never rapping in my life. I ended up rapping a song. And everybody liked the song because I was talking about real shit and they could, you know, visualize this shit happening, and everything. And everybody liked it and it took off. Blew up. So demand for another record was there. So I did something else. And then demand for an album. And all this shit just took off. I started NWA. Made the name up. Figured out how we was gonna do everything. And we did it. So the shit was cool.
MICHAEL: If you hadn't gotten into rap, would you think you'd still be selling drugs?
EAZY-E: I think I'd be dead or in jail.
MICHAEL: Wow. Quik said he knew more than 20 people who were killed.
EAZY-E: Twenty people ain't shit. I know more than that.
MICHAEL: Were any of them ever close…
EAZY-E: I know 20 people that's killed just in my little neighborhood. The little part that I'm in. That's from here to a couple blocks away.
MICHAEL: Not near here.
EAZY-E: Nah. Not near here.
MICHAEL: No, but in your part of Compton.
EAZY-E: Yeah. Usually at least six or seven of them get killed in one night. I mean, that's…
MICHAEL: Does it make you want to change things?
EAZY-E: Makes me want to stay off the streets and help other people get off the streets, and get, you know…. That's all. Worry about your family or somebody. You could just be standing out and people come by just shooting.
MICHAEL: But you don't worry that some guy is gonna listen to your record about, you know, drivebys and then go do one.
EAZY-E: I mean, anything can make somebody do something. It's like this fool that just rode into a restaurant and killed all them people. You think he was listening to our shit? I mean, you can just be fucked up in the head and go out and do something. You can't blame that shit on no records.
MICHAEL: How do you feel about making it sort of like X-rated and kids couldn't listen to it. Do you have any problem with a 6-year-old listening to your record?
EAZY-E: I mean, it's really not a record for a 6-year-old to listen to. But all this shit you can't hide from a little kid because later on in life they're gonna learn about it.
MICHAEL: But do you think you can harm them by letting them hear about it so early?
EAZY-E: Nah. I don’t think so. I mean you've got violence in cartoons, man. Little kids see another cartoon character shoot the other one and get back up. So they figure that shit could happen too. You got Coyote – might fall off a cliff. You know, little kid fall off a cliff, he dead. You know? There's violence in everything. Cartoons. A little everything. It's not our fault. I mean, they got movies that make people go out and do the things that they do. They might see something – I want to be like Scarface. I want to shoot somebody. B-d-d-d-d-d-r-r-r-r. Shit like that. It's just not us. Because if we didn't make an NWA record, the shit would still be the same. We can't change nuthin'. Shit would still be the same, whether we made the record or not. People would be still be doing the same shit that they doing now.
MICHAEL: People like Chuck D think that you can make it better, I think, by putting politics into records. Do you agree with him?
EAZY-E: I don't know. You might. Some people can. But it's not everybody that's gonna listen. You always have hard heads. It's like I was telling you about the drug records. If you keep giving them "don't do drug" records and everybody start listening to them and they figure "All right. We not gonna do no drugs." (laughs). That shit won't happen. Not that. I wish I could make a record and make everybody just stop doing something.
MICHAEL: Well, were your parents scared about… like when things were happening in Compton and they're trying to raise their three kids, I mean, didn't they say… weren't they worried about trying to protect you from what was going on – and keep you out of it?
EAZY-E: Yeah. "I don't like you hanging out. I don't like you being in this dope business 'cause you could end up dead or in jail." I didn't like that.
MICHAEL: But it didn't matter what they said, you were gonna do it anyway?
EAZY-E: I was a hard head anyway, man. I had to get out there and get what I wanted. And I didn't like asking nobody for nuthin'. Especially when somebody tell me "no." Or working. I didn't like answering to nobody. Nobody telling me what to do. "You do this or do that." Because I had jobs before. And they was like, "You do this." And I hate taking orders. So I said, "Fuck it. I'm gonna start my own shit." I did it and I said, "One day I'm gonna have everything I want." I told my mother that. I said, "One day," I told 'em, "I will have everything I want and I'm gonna be doin' shit for y'all." And it happened, man. You just gotta put your mind to it.
MICHAEL: Have you done anything to pay them back, given them a gift of some kind?
EAZY-E: Yeah, damn right. I do everything for them. Given them a house. I got 'em cars and everything else and make sure they're well taken care of.
MICHAEL: Are you still living in Compton the way Quik is, or have you moved away?
EAZY-E: Who me? I've got places here, places there. I mean, I make money, man. You know you're gonna have to get a couple different places. And if I show you this, what does it say?
MICHAEL: Compton California. South Muriel. South Muriel – is that a tough neighborhood there?
EAZY-E: There's stuff all around there. So you see I got a up-to-date license.
MICHAEL: People have said to me, "NWA – they have really nice houses up in the hills somewhere."
EAZY-E: I got a nice house too. I mean, everybody gonna buy something here, something there. It's like money in the bank.
MICHAEL: But the question is, how can you still make gangsta rap when you're living in a nice house in the hills?
EAZY-E: You see what that license said. I know what's goin' on.
So you're still going back and…
EAZY-E: I go back. Don't never leave, man.
MICHAEL: Now when I talked to Quik, he said there's a lot more to Compton than what you hear on an NWA record. There's like good times and fun things to do and it's not always dangerous. Did you exaggerate it one way on purpose in order to make a point?
EAZY-E: Nah. I mean, you know, for NWA, it's really nuthin' too fun. Now for me, I do my own little shit. Might have a little fun in there, you know. It's like that stuff I did "Eazy-er Said Than Dunn" – that was like a fun song. "We Want Eazy" – that was like a fun song. With NWA, we leave the fun shit out, really.
MICHAEL: The other thing he said was, "Look. I always have to keep my guard up. Somebody could blow me away anytime."
Yeah. Somebody took a shot at him not too long ago.
MICHAEL: Yeah. He told me that. Do you feel the same way, that you have to keep your guard up at all? I mean, you've got somebody…
EAZY-E: You gotta keep your guard up all the time anyway. But you know…. I don't feel like probably like he feel, like somebody's gonna come up and just start shootin' at me all the sudden. You see, it's from what side he's from. Like he's from one side of Compton and I'm from another side.
MICHAEL: What's the difference between the two sides?
EAZY-E: Mmmmm…. Color.
MICHAEL: Oh really?
MICHAEL: So your side is…
EAZY-E: …a different color and his side is a different color.
MICHAEL: Oh, in terms of color – for gang color?
EAZY-E: Yeah, gang color. But you know I know everybody from both sides, you know so…
MICHAEL: It is possible that someone very powerful could read my book if I do it well enough. Is there anything you would say to someone like George Bush if he were picking up this book – what can be done to make a place like Compton so people don't always have to be dodging bullets. Is there anything that can be done? What does Compton need?
EAZY-E: I don't know, to tell the truth. I don't know. 'Cause if that's the case, I don't know what could change it right now. I don't know. I don't know what could stop all this shit.
MICHAEL: In terms of the future, do you have hope that it can get better?
EAZY-E: Yeah, it can get better. I mean, we all know what the problem is. Drugs, guns and everything else. So… that's mainly the problem. People steal for drugs. Steal for money or steal to make money. Kill for money. Kill for drugs. Kill to make money. I mean, I guess what all this violence shit that's going on is all about. Money.
MICHAEL: There were people like Martin Luther King who said money was not the first priority.
EAZY-E: Yeah, but you don't have people like Martin Luther King out on the street right now. That's saying money is not the priority. Tell somebody that's out here doing all this shit. They'd be like, "Fuck you. You know, money IS the priority. Gotta have money. Gotta survive."
MICHAEL: You think that's gonna change?
EAZY-E: I don't know. I think the shit could get worse.
EAZY-E: Mm – hm.
MICHAEL: How could it be any worse than DJ Quik being afraid to drive down the street?
EAZY-E: I think the shit's gonna get worse.
MICHAEL: Wow. Do you think there's gonna be some kind of revolution or something? I mean, shooting in the…
EAZY-E: I don't know. It's like right now, how the shit is going on. I think the shit gonna be kinda crazy in a minute.
MICHAEL: Some people would say they believe that you're making money off of something harmful to the community just the way a drug dealer makes money off of something harmful to the community.
EAZY-E: But we're not killing the community, though. I mean, the people that said all this, they don't have to buy it. They don't have to listen to it. I mean, they gonna criticize whatever. If there's something else that come out, they're gonna criticize it. If wasn't ever out there, they'd be talking about something else right now. They would be talking about something.
MICHAEL: I've read, you know, people call your stuff pornography. Is your stuff pornography?
EAZY-E: Nah. That's bullshit. Nah.
MICHAEL: I guess what isn't pornography has a value other than just sex and violence. Would you say that there's a value to your stuff other than sex and violence? I mean, I think there is. But…
EAZY-E: Mmmm… Yeah, there is.
MICHAEL: Would you say it's the music?
EAZY-E: The music. And everything's not all sex and violence. But that shit sells. Sex sells. Violence sells.
MICHAEL: And yours certainly goes to the outer limits.
EAZY-E: Yeah. Somewhat. I figure it's like news reporter. We say shit that they're scared to say.
MICHAEL: There are a few songs like, uh "One Less Bitch" – a lot of women I heard talking were pretty upset about that. I'm just wondering why you decided to put that on the album. Did you have any doubts about putting that on?
EAZY-E: No. Dre and them came up with that. And they was just talking about I guess bitches that they just leave alone, or whatever the fuck they go. I really didn't have too much to do about that. I just had to say what I say at the end, how I felt about bitches.
MICHAEL: But it's the violence against women that seems to be a big issue. You know, a lot of women are saying that a lot of men are gonna go out and do that. They're gonna take it seriously. They're gonna take it literally.
EAZY-E: Not from the record. I mean, you only do what you want to do. Like they say our records promote violence and start people doing this. A record don't make you go out and do nuthin'. You make yourself go out and do that.
MICHAEL: When I talked with Queen Latifah and Bytches with Problems, I was curious, you know, what would they think about it. Both of them said, Well, look. I don't agree with everything that's said on those NWA albums. But I get some good laughs out of it. And they said, "I think it's funny – a lot of it. Because it's so exaggerated." Does that bother you that they get… Is it okay that people laugh sometimes at it? Is some of it supposed to be funny?
EAZY-E: I mean, it could be funny. Take it however you want to take it. Latifah – she do her thing. And she probably gonna down it because she all for this righteous black woman shit.
She didn't down it, though.
EAZY-E: And Bytches with Problems, that happened to be… they were signed to me. And I let 'em go. But I still get paid from whatever they do. 'Cause I took a override. So…
MICHAEL: Oh really? I thought it was interesting they both said they laughed. And I didn't know if you'd say they're not supposed to be laughing or whether you intend for some of it to be funny.
EAZY-E: I mean, some of the shit is funny, though. It's just like Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor or something like that. Don't nobody knocked them. Andrew Dice Clay, I mean.
MICHAEL: What if some fucking KKK racist guy puts out a record. You know, he's a white guy, calling blacks N-- , saying they all should die and be killed. Do you defend his right to make that record?
EAZY-E: He could make whatever he want to, as long as it's makin' him money. It's like the police, they came around here and they said they listened to our song and everything. And I said, "Why don't y'all come in and do a song called 'Fuck NWA?"' Fuck it. I wouldn't care. Let people do whatever they want to do. Fuck N- . Fuck this. Let 'em do what they want to do.
MICHAEL: What about the way you treat women, you know – there's one way depicted on the record, off the record…
EAZY-E: The way we treat women?
MICHAEL: The way you personally treat women.
EAZY-E: I love women. We never mention nuthin' about women. We always mention stuff about bitches. We're not putting down no women. So that's what everybody get wrong. Number one, we don't talk about women. We talk about bitches. There's a difference. You know, that's why we did the song "A Bitch is a Bitch" – to let them know what we talkin' about. Not talking about women. We're talking about bitches.
MICHAEL: Do you still go to prostitutes?
EAZY-E: Do I go to pro-- ? I don't need no prostitute. I don't NEED no prostitute. Too much pussy out there to be fuckin' with a prostitute.
MICHAEL: Do you have a long-term girlfriend, or wife?
EAZY-E: I got friends.
MICHAEL: Do you have one, or several?
EAZY-E: I got one.
MICHAEL: You got one.
MICHAEL: Is she the mother of your child?
EAZY-E: The mothers of my child is the mothers of my child right now. But you know, I have friends, man. I don't want to put that in a magazine. I have… one.
MICHAEL: Do you use condoms?
EAZY-E: Me? Hell, yeah. I mean, I'm not just gonna go and fuck around with nobody. Unless I have a gang of pills or something. I don't want to fuck around with no AIDS or herpes or no shit like that. If that's the case, I got me a big-ass bottle of tetracycline and some other shit.
MICHAEL: I don't know whether that's…
EAZY-E: I don't want to fuck around.
MICHAEL: I guess. Let's just see…
EAZY-E: Keep goin', man.
MICHAEL: There are people who say the Civil Rights Movement got rid of the word N- and then you're bringing it back again and it's demeaning to us. And it, you know, it brings us back. It takes away from the forward movement we had. Do you have an answer for them?
EAZY-E: Number one is as long as you remain to be black, to anybody else you're a N-. We call white people N-. It's just a word like homeboy now. But then again, we didn't make up the word. We didn't make up the word. Who made up the word?
MICHAEL: Have you ever had experiences with racism yourself? Has anyone ever treated you badly because of your skin color?
EAZY-E: Mm… I mean, you run into shit like that all the time.
MICHAEL: Like in what way? I can't even… you mean like little things, when you go into a bank and they…
EAZY-E: Yeah. It's like, that was before. Now the bank I go to, everybody knows me, you know.
MICHAEL: I imagine they'd get down and… and bow when you walk in.
EAZY-E: It's like before. Like I used to go to meetin's, like you know big meetin's, or gatherings. I'd come in, I'd say… I'd meet somebody and I'd tell them who I am. And they go, "Oh, you're Eric Wright?" And they'd be surprised 'cause I'm black and young and everything. Like one company I went to one time. And they said... I went up there and I said I'm here to see such-and-such for a meeting and my manager was there – 'cause my manager is Jewish, Jerry Heller – and he was there and they said, "The messenger boy is here." I said, "Okay. I'll be the messenger." So I sat out there. And they came out and they're "Hi how you doin'?" And they told the lady who I was and she said, "Oh would you like this? Would you like that? I'm sorry. I thought you was the messenger." Shit like that. You know.
MICHAEL: I've heard from both KRS-One, Ice Cube and a few other people, they've been talking a lot about this battle between Jews and Black. Do you still work with Jewish people? Do you have any problem with that?
EAZY-E: You're damn right I work with Jewish people. I have a daughter that's half Jewish. So fuck what they say. You know, who's selling they records? The black people? The black people own all these companies and stuff like that? Who? So how the fuck can they talk about Jewish or whatever else? I mean, number one, I guess I'm color blind. Because I don't give a fuck what color you are or what race you are. So I don't know what the fuck they problem is. Who's selling Ice Cube records? The president of the company – Brian Turner – is Jewish. Am I right? So what is he saying? It's just a bunch of bullshit and hype and everything else. You know? Who the fuck do they think run the company? Who KRS-One think they hooked up with? Black people distributing their records? Who's running over that? What is it, Jive? Who was over there? Barry Weiss? Is he black? What is he? What is he?
MICHAEL: Well, I, you know…
EAZY-E: He might be Jewish. I know damn well he's not black. So that's a bunch of bullshit.
MICHAEL: So those things don't matter so much to you.
EAZY-E: Don't matter. It's just a bunch of bullshit.
MICHAEL: Ice Cube said, when asked about whites, he said: There are poison snakes and there are regular snakes. So in other words all white people are snakes.
EAZY-E: I mean, I guess it's the same with N- too. I guess there's poisonous N- and regular N- .
MICHAEL: I guess. But why do we have to be N- and snakes? Why can't we just be people?
EAZY-E: That's what I see it as. People. Good and bad.
MICHAEL: So a lot of it is… When we were kids, we used to say "Sticks and stones can break my bones/But words can never hurt me." Is it sort of that you don't think words are that harmful?
EAZY-E: Not to me. Really I don't give a fuck. I mean, white, black, whatever. I'm color blind. All right? And it's like, shit… The color of money is green. I don't give a fuck where it's coming from.
MICHAEL: You know, I've been talking to a lot of people about why it's so hard for black men right now, why life is so hard. And some of them have said, the problem is that everybody just wants to make money and take care of themselves. Nobody's taking care of the community. Is it really true that your first priority is making money?
EAZY-E: That's the whole thing. I mean, just like you, what you doin' this for?
MICHAEL: Well, I'm not really making money off of it, I have to tell ya…
EAZY-E: But you makin' money – if you wasn't makin' no money, you wouldn't be doin' it.
MICHAEL: I'm getting $5000 for six months work.
EAZY-E: Okay, but you makin' money, right?
MICHAEL: I guess so. Yeah.
EAZY-E: Other than that, you wouldn't be doin' it just to do it.
MICHAEL: Well, I'm doin' it 'cause I like…. Obviously, I've gone into debt to do this. So I'm doing it because I wanted a chance to talk to you and hear what you had to say.
EAZY-E: Yeah. But it's all about money, really though, right?
MICHAEL: I guess…. You know I could make money in the long run and I'm hoping that will happen.
EAZY-E: So it's all for…. The reason is to make money. I think we all do stuff to make money. We don't really do nuthin' for free, not unless we doing some shit for charity or for some worthy cause. Terminally ill kids. Something like that. That's different.
MICHAEL: Is there some cause like that that you care a lot about?
EAZY-E: Me, I'm on Athletes and Entertainers for Kids. And I do a lot of other stuff for other little kids that might be terminally ill, their mother might be on drugs, or their father might have molest them, or something like that. And I do all kinds of little benefits for the kids. A lot of people don't know that. But that's what I do. I do this. I give to The City of Hope. You know, other kind of little things.
MICHAEL: City of Hope.
EAZY-E: United Colors. All kind of stuff.
MICHAEL: United Colors. Just going to the music again…. On your album, how do you find your samples? Like, do you go around to old records stores all the time looking for old records?
EAZY-E: I go to old records… I got a bunch of record stores, a lot of the old record stores. Just been huntin'. Goin' through all kind of them. And I got, like, thousands and thousands of dollars worth of old records.
EAZY-E: Yeah. Might go one day and spend a thousand dollars. And I do this shit, like, 10 times. So you know I got $10,000, $12,000 worth of old records.
MICHAEL: The one thing that people always said to me – even if they didn't like what the lyrics said, they disagreed with what the lyrics said – they said, you know, this record is good, I had to buy it anyway. That's what I heard over and over and over again. "The music is so good." Is there something to be said about how you do the music as a group that's different from the way other people do it, that makes this sound so good?
EAZY-E: I don't know. It's just that we take our time. You know, everybody just go in, might lay a sample and rap over it. We take our time, and you know, watch what we say, and watch how we do things. We spend a lot of time in the studio, especially on an NWA album.
MICHAEL: What do you look for in a new group?
EAZY-E: Originality. Something different. A different sound. I always want to be different than somebody else. I don't want the same thing. "You sound just like such-and-such." Or something like that. I always look for, you know, originality.
MICHAEL: So you don't feel like a whole bunch of people have jumped on the Compton bandwagon and copied you.
EAZY-E: That's where you from, you rap about where you from. You got a lotta groups from New York. All of them from New York, they say they from New York.
MICHAEL: Good point.
EAZY-E: Right? They all from New York so they say New York. So if we all from Compton, or wherever, we gonna say Compton. It's what KRS-One: "South Bronx, South South Bronx." So we yellin', "Compton, Compton. Compton" That's where we from. You rap about wherever you from.
MICHAEL: If you look at the Bronx and then you look at Compton, you know, the Bronx really looks a lot worse.
EAZY-E: Yeah, the Bronx is all fucked up. Everywhere. There's a lot of places everywhere that's fucked up. I mean, people just not sayin' nothing about it. I know New York. The whole New York around I've been in is fucked up. Shit is just as bad. Nobody said Compton is the worst place on earth and all that.
MICHAEL: If you could be… you know, if you had the choice to be doing anything you wanted right now, what's your favorite thing to do?
EAZY-E: Mmm…. I just like keepin' people happy and being happy myself, really.
MICHAEL: Wow. Not a lot of people would say that same thing.
EAZY-E: I figure I was reincarnated and you know I came back to do something because before I seem like… I figure myself I think I died at an early age before. And I wasn't too happy. And everybody else wasn't happy. So I figure I came back now to make everybody happy, make everybody money. And be happy. That's what I think myself.
MICHAEL: A lot of people were a little bit like, "Whoa. Are you scared to be talking to someone from NWA?" Like people are really buying into this gangsta image, that you might blow me away or something during the interview. And, I guess the thing is, do you want people to be scared of you?
EAZY-E: I mean, a lot of are gonna be scared. It's not like I want nobody to be scared of me. But you know, I don't know. We're not gonna blow you away. The only way we'll blow you away is if you write us a fucked-up article in this book, you know. Then we gonna blow you away. (laughs)
RECORDED INTERVIEW ENDS
MICHAEL: I don't think I want to say anything else after that. Do you Sal?
SALLY: Nah. I want to sit with that a bit.
MICHAEL: And you know I will not be tossing that cassette. Can you blame me?
SALLY: Oh, c'mon. You digitized it. Why do you need the cassette?
MICHAEL: It's hip-hop history!
SALLY: All right, go ahead and keep it. Don't look at me when all your boxes are still full of stuff.
MICHAEL: Actually, I've got a lot more about Eazy-E in those boxes. For instance, in 1992, I met him again and he drove me in his Mercedes around Compton on the last day of the LA riots. I captured that entire experience on tape.
SALLY: Now THAT'S some hip-hop history.
MICHAEL: I also have materials from the article I reported about Eazy-E after his death. I talked with a lot of people – including his manager Jerry Heller – about the strange circumstances of Eazy's death. In my box, there's even a complete copy of Eazy's last will and testament.
SALLY: What? How did you get it?
MICHAEL: I actually don't remember. I didn't even remember that I had it. But someone must have sent me a copy for my PEOPLE Magazine story.
SALLY: Okay, I get it. You want me to witness another Eazy-E episode.
MICHAEL: This is interesting stuff. We can't just leave it in the box!
SALLY: All right. You win. Let's go for it.
MICHAEL: Excellent. And in the meantime, THANK YOU to Dr. Dre for being our special guest and sharing your expertise with us. And thank you to Big Al Pereira for helping us connect with Dr. Dre so he could be on the show. And thanks to you Sal too.
SALLY: Me? For what?
MICHAEL: For watching the movie. You definitely get points for that.
SALLY: Fuck tha police!
MICHAEL: Okay, that's enough now. But since you're such a convert, you can join the crowd that is listening to our playlist of NWA and Eazy-E songs on our website, throwitoutpodcast.com
SALLY: And if you want to hear about future episodes, please follow us on Twitter or Instagram at throwitoutpod. Or, if you feel the urge to go to Apple Podcasts and give a rating to I Couldn't Throw It Out, we'd be eternally grateful. Mike, anything to add?
MICHAEL: Just wondering: Do you think our theme song will ever be as popular as an Eazy-E song?
SALLY: Not a chance. But we can still dance around to it.
MICHAEL: Oh yes. That's highly likely. Start dancin' Sally.
SALLY: You too. Bye, Mike!
MICHAEL: Bye Sal!
THEME SONG: I Couldn't Throw It Out
Performed by Don Rauf, Boots Kamp, and Jen Ayers
Music by Boots Kamp and Don Rauf
Lyrics by Don Rauf and Michael Small
Out here in Nancy's – her big garage
This isn't a mi- This isn't a mirage
Decades of stories, memories stacked
There is a redolence of some irrelevant facts.
But I couldn't throw it out
I have to scream and shout
It all seems so unjust
But still I know I must
Before I turn to dust
I've got to throw it out
Before I turn to dust
I've got to throw it out
Well, I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
I'll sort through my possessions
In these painful sessions
I guess this is what it's about
The poems, cards and papers
The moldy musty vapors
I just gotta sort it out.
Well I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
I couldn't throw it out
END OF EPISODE 7
Dr. Dre was the co-host with Ed Lover of the tremendously influential TV show Yo! MTV Raps Today from 1989 to 1995. They helped promote the work of the other Dr. Dre -- the producer and former NWA member -- on their show. In 1993, Dre appeared with Ed Lover in director Ted Demme's movie, Who's The Man? Dre and Lover later released the album, Back Up Off Me! and they hosted a morning radio show on New York City's Hot 97. Dre also served as DJ for the Beastie Boys. Dre got his start as a DJ at Adelphi University, where he created his rap group Original Concept. In September 2022, Dre - whose uncontrolled Type II diabetes led to his blindness and amputations -- became President of the Parawhirl Network, which is the world's first accessibility inclusive entertainment network for people with disabilities and special needs, in partnership with the American Basketball Association and its streaming network Abagale TV. For more about Parawhirl, go to paraaccessworld.org and for more on Dr. Dre, go to doctordre39.org.