Hip-Hop

20 Years After His Death, Eazy-E Deserves a Spot on Rap's Mount Rushmore

For Eazy-E, the concept of gangsta rap was fully formed in his mind.

By 1986, the genre, which nobody then called "gang­sta rap" ("reality rap," please) had begun to sprout in L.A. by way of Ice-T's "6 'n the Mornin'," which was patterned after Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D's "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" But there was no gangsta-rap label, and certainly no gangsta-rap genre.

Eazy-E was an unlikely progenitor. "I didn't know he rapped," remembers MC Ren, his future bandmate in N.W.A. "Ain't nobody know."

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Ben Westhoff
Contact: Ben Westhoff