Soon you’ll be able to cruise down Eazy Street in your 64.
Next week, Compton will unveil the newly renamed highway dedicated to the late rap icon Eazy-E, who was born and raised in the city. The rapper, along with fellow NWA members Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and Arabian Prince, popularized Compton through their era-defining West Coast rap albums. Eazy-E, whose real name was Eric Lynn Wright, died in March 1995 at age 30, days after announcing that he had been diagnosed with AIDS.
In September, the Compton City Council voted unanimously to rename the 100 block of Auto Drive South, which runs off Alameda Street and into the Gateway Towne Center shopping plaza, as “Eazy Street.” A street party will be held on November 22 to celebrate the moment with performances and appearances by the “Boyz-n-the-Hood” rapper’s children and his former collaborators.
“My dad loved where he came from,” Erica Wright, the rapper’s daughter, said in a statement. “Nothing could keep him away from Compton. Nothing could keep his parents away from Compton. This will always be a highlight in my life.”
Eazy-E’s son, Eric Darnell Wright Jr., who rapped under the name Lil Eazy-E, added: “The street name serves as a symbol of recognition and commemoration, ensuring that our father… has a legacy.” that will be remembered and celebrated for generations to come.”
“It’s a wonderful way for the city of Compton to honor his influence and the cultural significance he brought to the community,” said Wright Jr., who will perform next week alongside DJ Yella.
Compton native Eric Lynn Wright dropped out of high school and made a living dealing drugs before rising to stardom in 1988 when his rap group, NWA, released the debut album “Straight Outta Compton” as well as the solo project Wright’s “Eazy-Duz-He.” Both albums were released under Wright’s label, Ruthless Records, which he co-founded with Jerry Heller. The releases would be considered the opening of a new era for hip-hop, a genre and industry that had been defined and dominated commercially until that point primarily by East Coast acts.
With iconic music videos featuring Wright and his group parading through the streets of Compton, they placed the Los Angeles County city in America’s pop culture consciousness.
Alonzo Williams, one of Wright’s early collaborators, is known as the godfather of West Coast hip-hop and now heads the Compton Entertainment Chamber of Commerce. He spearheaded the appointment of Eazy Street. Williams was the owner of Compton nightclub Eve After Dark, which helped launch acts like Dr. Dre and Eazy-E and was mentioned at the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show.
Wright came to Williams for advice in creating Ruthless Records and introduced him to Heller, Williams recalled in an interview with Times 404 correspondent Greg Ruben. And even after Wright found fame, Williams said, the rapper often visited him in his garage, where NWA recorded his first songs. The two spent time making jokes.
Wright was active in the community and often paid for and organized events for residents, Williams said. She hoped that having Eazy Street would be an extension of that legacy.
“People come to Compton to see what Compton has to offer,” he said, “and there are no tourist attractions in Compton.” He also plans to start the city’s own walk of fame.