N.W.A.‘s position of influence in the world of rap is undeniable. A bi-product of impoverished West Coast youth, the controversial and creative rap group helped establish Los Angeles as both the new commercial and musical capital of hip-hop. With a lyrical focus on inter-community rivalry, urban and police violence, poverty, and institutionalized racism, N.W.A. ushered in the gangsta rap sub-genre and set the stage for rappers for years to come.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that there is a lot much hype surrounding the group’s biopic Straight Outta Compton, set to hit theaters this Friday (Aug. 14). From interviews with cast members and group members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, to the release of Dre’s Compton: A Soundtrack, fans have gotten the opportunity to learn about the Compton culture and the film prior to its release. And while Dre and Cube have been leading the campaign for the film, fans cannot help but wonder what role the late Eazy-E would have played in the film if he were alive today.
Eazy, played in the film by actor Jason Mitchell, passed away in 1995 due to complications from AIDS. The “Godfather of Gangsta Rap” served as the foundation of N.W.A. and it’s hard to imagine what rap would be like without his influence. In the words of Dr. Dre:
N.W.A would have not existed without Eazy-E. No doubt in my mind. He was bold and not scared of anything. He was 21, 22, I was 16 — to me he was fearless. That’s what he brought. ‘I don’t want to do no corny ass records that try to get on the radio. I want to do hardcore records about what the hell is going on around here.’
I caught up with Eazy-E’s daughter E.B., who is an artist herself. We spoke about her take on Straight Outta Compton, her dad’s influence on rap, police brutality, and more.
Interview by Nadirah Simmons (@nadirahsimm).
GFM: How would you describe your father’s legacy?
E.B.: A lot of people should understand he was a visionary. He was very outspoken. An advocate. He definitely fought for what he believed in. And I definitely think my dad opened the doors and paved the way for a lot of artists today and just people in general. What Eazy-E and N.W.A. did, I like to say, it’s equivalent to what social media is today. They didn’t have that back then. They were the voice of the people back then.
Definitely. And a lot of what they spoke about, we see today. Police brutality isn’t a new thing. How do you feel about today’s movement. What would you like to see change?
It all has to stop. It’s just out of control. The movie shows—it’s not anything new. It’s been happening. Twenty years ago they were experiencing it. I think now it’s just more in our face because of social media, the exposure and technology. We get to see all of the terrible things that are going on. People are able to film it. People are able to speak on it and I’m very happy everyone can be a voice.
A lot of times people think that anyone surrounded by the limelight is out of touch with what’s going on, or they’re too quiet about social issues. But people want them to talk about this stuff. What would you say to those artists who don’t speak out on it?
It’s not in everybody. You have certain people that are leaders. You have the Eazy-E’s. You have the political type people like the Ice Cubes, the Kanye Wests, the Tupacs—you know what I mean? There are certain people who really, really get it and have a big enough influence to use it in the right way. So I don’t think that everyone has to. Would I love for everyone to speak up? Absolutely, but a lot of people won’t. A lot of people are scared or don’t want to cross the line or just don’t care. But I will say, I do. My father did. N.W.A. did. It’s something that we’ll keep speaking on and that’s what you’ll get in this movie.
Well everyone is excited for the movie! Have you seen it yet?
I have, I’ve seen it twice…I mean it is incredible. Jason Mitchell who portrays my father, he did a phenomenal job. I mean literally, it was actually kind of scary watching it.
That’s amazing. A lot of times celebrity families aren’t always feeling these biopics.
I mean I was definitely in support of the movie. This wasn’t the Eazy-E story, this was N.W.A. as a collective. And there’s a lot more to be told about my dad’s life and I’m actually producing a documentary with my mother Tracy Jernagin and my sister that will go more into Eazy-E’s life, from business to personal, and mainly focus on his death and a lot of the scandal that happened during that time and what happened to us all afterwards.
Now you got me anticipating something else. Straight Outta Compton just hit theaters! Don’t do that for a while.
*Laughs* I don’t really have an exact time, but I’m hoping to put that out around this time next year.
What are you and your mom going to focus on in the documentary?
Just that when a lot of money is involved, things get scandalous.
Aside from being the daughter of Eazy-E, I remember seeing you on My Super Sweet 16!
Oh my goodness *laughs*.
Well I’m saying that to say you are a celebrity in your own right. And you have this EP releasing in the Fall. How much would you say your dad influenced your music?
I wouldn’t say my dad influenced my music because I don’t rap and I don’t really do hip-hop music. I mean my music does have a lot of urban influence in it and that is from me growing up in the industry. I do my own music, my own style in my own way, and I would definitely say I got that from my dad. Doing what I want to do without anyone telling me what I should be doing.
And you’re launching a hat line.
I launched my website wewanteb.com recently actually. I was just into hats…like my dad. I actually feel weird when I don’t one on! And I started having these E.B. hats for my own personal use and a lot of my celebrity and athlete friends started asking me ‘when am I getting my E.B. hat’ and I was like ‘you would wear this, really?” They were like ‘yeah.’ So I decided to pursue this hat line. I just dropped my E.B. hats starting a little basic with snapbacks, but in time I’m going to start doing custom hats, high end hats, similar to a Don C.
How much has your mom has influenced you?
My mother has influenced me tremendously, probably more than anyone. I do want to make it clear in the movie they do show a woman that was with my dad, and it’s really unfortunate they didn’t put my mother in the movie being she was the one who was actually with my dad all throughout N.W.A., but my mom is the greatest. It’s hard being a female in this business. She has a musical background. Even my mom’s side of the family, my great-grandfather sang back-up for Sammy Davis Jr. and played the drums. A lot of my musical background actually comes from my mother’s side. A lot of people don’t know, my dad wasn’t really a rapper or an artist first. That just kind of happened. He was an entrepreneur, a businessman. So I definitely think that I got my business side from my father and all of my musical talents from my mother.
Just to switch gears a little bit, what’s something that people don’t know about you?
To be honest because most people do know me from that MTV show and being known as some spoiled brat. I don’t think people realize that was a TV show. Just because it’s reality doesn’t mean that everything is all real. It was definitely acted up. But I think people need to know that I’m a real person with real morals and real values and views. I know a lot of people think everything is given, you know, being the daughter of someone like Eazy-E. But people also need to know that actually, there’s a struggle that comes along with my dad not being here. I’ve been working at a lot of things for many years and things are just starting to take off.
When people see things like the show they think everything’s all gravy. Everything’s all good and they have this picture perfect life.
Oh it isn’t. My life has been a rollercoaster. And me and my mom are going to show that in our documentary, what happened to us after my father passed away. But I want people to know when I make it, it’s not because I had my father here to make phone calls for me or walk me through any doors. I literally have to kick them down just like he had to.
Okay so we’re going to play a little game. I’m going to give you a word, you say the first thing that comes to mind.
He’s dope! I like Meek. He’s actually a friend of mine.
He’s a friend of yours? How do you feel about this beef?
I’ve been in the studio around him, actually when he was working on this last album. Meek is incredible. As far as the beef I am a big fan of both Drake and Meek Mill so there are no sides taken at all. I’m neutral! But I’m always excited for a little hip-hop beef…it’s supposed to be competitive. It’s supposed to be a little drama.
So that brings me to my next word, Drake.
I hope he didn’t have any ghostwriters though, I’m a little concerned.
A lot of people have writers, I mean I know in hip-hop you’re not supposed to have writers. You’re supposed to be your own writer, but at the end of the day there are certain people who are real rappers, and those are the J. Coles, the Meek Mills, and then you have people who are artists. Drake is an artist, he’s a singer, he’s a rapper, he’s an actor. I don’t know how much anyone else is putting in on his records but he’s delivering it us and doing an incredible job. Drake is phenomenal.
Favorite album of all time?
You know what? I don’t have a favorite album of all time. I love so much. That’s another thing a lot of people don’t know about me. I love country music, I love pop music.
Wait, you like country music?
Haha yeah! The Luke Bryants to the Carrie Underwoods. I like the songwriting, I like the melodies. It might be top two genres, like I really enjoy country music. I’m all over the place. I’m very diverse. And then I have favorite artists, I mean Rihanna, she’s incredible. Beyonce. But I grew up really listening to Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani, Spice Girls, stuff that that.
I definitely see their influence in your music.
Absolutely, I like to tell people the best way to describe me is if Kanye West and Avril Lavigne had a baby, you’d get E.B. I’m talking music, fashion, to just a person in general…hopefully you guys will get all of that on the EP.
When does the EP drop?
I’m hoping to put it out late September!
Who’s on it? Are we allowed to know or is that a surprise?
Not yet, that is a surprise!