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Eazy-E Portrait Session

Source: Al Pereira / Getty

It’s hard to believe that Eazy-E would be 52 years old today. He was one of the pioneers of “Gangsta Rap” with the groundbreaking group N.W.A.

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

By 1986, the genre, which nobody then called “gang­sta rap” had begun to sprout in L.A. by way of Ice-T’s “6 ‘n the Mornin,” But there was no gangsta-rap label, and certainly no gangsta-rap genre.

But today, over 21 years after his death, Eazy isn’t recognized the way many artists are. Even with the N.W.A biopic, he’s remembered by some as a footnote, rather than the hip-hop colossus who helped usher in a new form of rap.

Eazy was far from a technically great rapper. He famously took forever to record “Boyz-n-the-Hood” because of his poor flow. “I ain’t never see nobody take that many takes,” Ren says. And he usually didn’t write his own verses. People such as Ice Cube, Ren, The D.O.C. and Dr. Dre often did that for him.

But Eazy’s high-pitched voice — alternately hilarious and terrifying — stands up well on record. More importantly, he had the gangsta vision that ultimately took over hip-hop and remains its driving force today.

On March 26, 1995, at approximately 6:35 p.m. PST, Eazy-E died from complications of AIDS, one month after his diagnosis.

Here is an Eazy -E Interview that gives you a glimpse into that vision.

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