If there ever was such a thing as a rap supergroup, NWA was it. There are plenty of things I could mention here to back this up. But for the sake of arguments, let's start with the members of this crew from the mean streets of Compton, California.
Dr. Dre went on to become the most sought-after producer in all of hip-hop. Ice Cube went on to a successful career as an actor and solo rap artist. And Eazy E? Well, he didn't quite make it (the rapper died of complications from AIDS in 1995). But his legend has long since become a matter of record.
So here's the thing. When music historians talk about landmark hip-hop albums, NWA's Straight Outta Compton is a given. It just goes without saying that for those in the know, this was a breakthrough for the West Coast based Gangsta' Rap genre in every sense of the word. And there is certainly truth to why that is — NWA pretty much wrote the book on all things "Gangsta'" with that landmark release.
But what a lot of more casual hip-hop heads and Johnny-come-latelys to the rap scene don't realize is that Eazy E's Eazy Duz It not only came first, but that it also paved the way for all of the groundbreaking music which came later.
Eazy E's raps like "Boyz In The Hood" (which later became a movie that heralded John Singleton's arrival as a director) and "Radio" were blowing up on the streets long before NWA joints like "Dope Man" and "Fuck Tha' Police." They also established the street buzz that NWA would later ride to platinum selling success as the first true West Coast rap superstars. Eazy Duz It laid the groundwork for everything that was still to come.
The other thing about Eazy Duz It is that although it was sold as a solo album, the rest of NWA are still all over the damn thing. Dre produced many of the tracks, and Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Yella are likewise present on most, if not all of the raps on this album.
Like the much better known Straight Outta' Compton, Eazy E's solo album Eazy Duz It also follows a very simple, but effective formula. Deep-ass bass lines, old-school funk samples, and plenty of street smart ghetto attitude are what powers this record. Which is exactly what made Eazy Duz It so revolutionary when it was originally released way back in 1988.
A lot of this stuff seemed positively shocking back then, and it definitely opened doors for the wave of Gangsta' Rap acts which would follow, and continues even now. Even so, today Eazy E's liberal use of expletives like "muthafucka" in nearly every other lyrical couplet, and even the grittier portrayals of street life in his Compton 'hood seem somewhat tame now. The lyrics are often so extreme they seem kind of like cartoon images today — it's almost as though Eazy E was playing a joke all along, and that it simply took us this long to get the punchline.
Still, there is no question that Eazy Duz It was a landmark, groundbreaking album. As Eazy himself might have said, this one was a muthafucka’.
As part of Priority Records series of "Snoop Dogg Approved" reissues of classic rap albums — the series also includes classic rap albums by people like Master P and EPMD — Eazy Duz It is now out in a new remastered edition.
Like the other albums in this series, the producers seem to have largely left things alone as far as any new studio tinkering goes, and that's just fine. The album was a classic as is, and any additional tweaks would be largely unnecessary. In fact, I kind of like Snoop Dogg's whole "leave it alone" approach to these reissues.
I also have to admit that I'll always have kind of a soft-spot for this album because my former partner-in-crime on the radio, Nasty Nes, is featured on the one radio-friendly track included here called — what else? — "Radio."
Bottom line is that although NWA's Straight Outta' Compton is by far the more historically celebrated album, there simply wouldn't have been a Gangsta' Rap genre at all without the street level breakthrough of Eazy E's Eazy Duz It.