Today, the long-awaited N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, hits theaters. The film follows the formation and rise of seminal rap group N.W.A., including members Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and the late Eazy E. Given the crew's cemented legacy as revered hip-hop icons, sometimes we fans forget they’re people too, with families.
We recently spoke to Eazy E’s daughter E.B. Wright, who has a new EP, We Want E.B., coming out in late September. The 25-year-old singer is also working on a documentary about father, who died in 1995 due to complications from AIDS at 31. ("A lot of people don't know the truth behind his death," Wright told BET in 2013.) She spoke with City Pages about what childhood was like with Eazy E for a dad, her own endeavors in the music industry, and her thoughts on her father’s portrayal in Straight Outta Compton.City Pages: Do you recall the first rap song you ever heard?
E.B. Wright: You know what? I think the first one I ever heard that I can remember is “We Want Eazy.” It’s just the voices and the shouting and seeming like a concert, that’s what I remember. It just seemed fun.
CP: You lived with your father until his passing when you were four. Were you cognizant then of what a big deal he was, or was it years later when you realized what he meant to so many people?
E.B.W: Not at four. Honestly, I remember in elementary school around eight and nine-year-old, I remember playing on the playground and the people that would watch you, they would hear that my dad was Eazy E. That’s when I started realizing his impact, and people were big fans. That’s when I started realizing he wasn’t just “Dad” anymore, he was Eazy E.
CP: With those junior high years being the most heated debates passionate fans get into about hip-hop, did you find your heritage gave your opinions on rap that much more credibility?
E.B.W: [Laughs] Yeah, it did. People would assume, “That’s Eazy E’s daughter, she knows what she’s talking about.” Even with my father not being here, my mom is a music manager for many years and after my father’s passing, I still grew up in the music industry with my mom and around Snoop Dogg and all these other names and the backing of these big name uncles, too. The big names from the DJ Quiks to the Dr. Dres. People knew, even on top of being Eazy E’s daughter, I had a little more weight.
CP: You mentioned Dr. Dre and, before your father’s passing, he famous made amends with Dre and Ice Cube. After his passing, did you see them frequently as family friends?
E.B.W.: Yes, they did. Absolutely. I went to junior high and high school with Ice Cube’s kid. We’re a big family, we all grew up in the same family.CP: You first expressed your desire to make music at age 12, and your brother Lil Eazy E also makes music. Between you and your brother, do you recall which wanted to make music first?
E.B.W.: You know, he was much older when he started, but if I recall correctly, I think I had actually gotten into music first. We have different mothers; my mother was in the music business and a lot of my talent comes from my mother’s side, not just my dad. My great-grandfather sang back up for Sammy Davis Jr. He was in his own group, made his own records. I’d always been into music, writing poetry, and wanting to be a singer. I’ve had a studio in my house my whole life. I’ve always been into music.
CP: Were you allowed to listen to your father’s records unedited growing up then?
E.B.W.: Oh yeah, my mom was a cool mom. She didn’t hide anything from me. She was young and fun. I heard everything, all the explicit lyrics, and when you’re young you don’t understand it anyway. She was in the business, she was younger than my dad, and especially after his passing, I don’t think she wanted to keep anything away from me. I don’t think anything’s ever been hidden from me.
CP: When you first heard about Straight Outta Compton, were you concerned at all with how your father was going to be depicted?
E.B.W.: I was concerned, but not mainly with N.W.A., but more concerned with the Eazy E story in the movie. But Cube and Dre and F. Gary Grey, the director, they did a good job to me. They’re very sensitive with my dad’s storyline and don’t really get much into his personal life. They keep it on the surface and keep it about the group and their brotherhood, how they got started, what they all went though.
I was really proud of Jason Mitchell and how he portrayed my dad. Growing up, hearing stories about my father, everything I imagined I felt like I was watching on the screen. They picked the most perfect person to play him. Overall, I am in support of the movie as it’s about N.W.A. the collective and not “The Eazy E Story.” And I’m just excited for the world to get knowledgeable about N.W.A. and what they mean to artists today.