Hip-hop icon Easy-E honored in Compton

Wave Wire Services

COMPTON — The city honored the late rapper Eazy-E, a son of Compton, by renaming the 100 block of Auto Drive South after him Nov. 22 — officially dubbing the stretch Eazy Street.

“My father finally got what he deserves, a monumental street in the city he put on the map,” Eazy-E’s son Eric Darnell Wright told reporters at the event. “It’s a long time coming, but again, I always say it’s God’s timing.”

Compton Mayor Emma Shariff said Eazy-E’s “impact extends far beyond music.”

“He shaped culture, and emphasized civic engagement and community aspirations, making hip hop a force for good and a source of pride for Compton,” she said.

Eazy-E, whose real name was Eric Wright, is best known as a member of the landmark hip-hop group NWA along with Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Arabian Prince. He also achieved success as the founder and owner of Ruthless Records and as a solo artist. He died in 1995 at age 30 from AIDS-induced pneumonia.

The newly minted Eazy Street runs off Alameda Street and into the Gateway Towne Center shopping plaza.

Alonzo Williams, president of the Compton Entertainment Chamber of Commerce, played a major part in spearheading the renaming, city officials said.

Williams said he became aware of former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley’s past efforts to rename a street after Eazy-E. He said that, with this year being the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, it was a “great time” to honor Eazy-E, and his attempt was successful.

“Compton has a lot of history, but nobody knows about it. I figured the most recent history is hip-hop history,” Williams said at the event. “Being this is the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, I thought it’d be a great idea to approach the City Council, talk about possibly doing this and they loved the idea.”

Compton City Council members Andre Spicer, Diedra Duhart, Jonathan Bowers and Lillie Darden voted to rename the street to honor the rapper and music mogul’s legacy.

Easy E’s son, who is also known as “Lil Eazy-E,” performed at the ceremony with DJ Yella of NWA.

Compton native DJ Joe Cooley, of Rodney-O and Joe Cooley, also performed.

Lil Eazy-E lost his father at the age of 10. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became a recording artist and an executive, serving as the president of Rich & Ruthless Records.

“The street renaming serves as a symbol of recognition and commemoration, ensuring that our father, Eric Wright, has a legacy that will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come,” Lil Eazy-E said in a statement.

He added, “It is a wonderful way for the city of Compton to honor his influence and the cultural [significance] that he brought to the community. I am truly grateful and honored to see my dad’s legacy continue to be remembered in my hometown, Compton, California on Eazy Street.”

Wright’s daughters Erica and Ebie also participated in the ceremony. Erica has formed a charity foundation in honor of her father’s memory, and Ebie has starred on MTV’s “Sweet Sixteen” and “Exiled,” and released two singles.

“I cannot count the many stories I’ve heard of him (Eazy-E) giving, whether it was from the stash out of his pocket, or to a charity,” Erica said in a statement. “So with my siblings, we have developed the Eric Wright Family Foundation. We look forward to helping our community, and to show the world that it’s not so bad coming straight outta Compton.”

Ebie noted that her father helped put Compton on the map.

“I think we can all agree that his global impact, generated through his music, his celebrity, his vision and his vote not only inspired numerous other artists that emerged out of Compton because of him, but also, by using his influence to shed light on the negative issues that were occurring in his community, he helped drive positive change in this city, which extend to inner cities around the world,” Ebie said.