It’s great that Hip-Hop group N.W.A. will be inducted into the prestigious Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, joining legends like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and others.
However, there was a time when no one would believe that “The World’s Most Dangerous Group” could ever achieve such a feat, given all the controversy and backlash surrounding their album Straight Outta Compton.
Straight Outta Compton featured groundbreaking commentary from Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella, about life in Los Angeles. It was all released on Eazy’s small Los Angeles based independent record label, Ruthless Records.
We all know the story of how Ruthless flamed out, thanks to the N.W.A.’s sudden fame, management issues, fighting within the group and most of all, Eazy-E’s shocking death from AIDS in March of 1995.
Right after Eazy died, the FBI started investigating claims that someone stole master recordings and unpublished songs that were in two titanium, locked briefcases. The masters, which were worth millions, were lifted from the trunk of Eazy-E’s leased Mercedes.
|FBI’s documents on Eric “Eazy-E” Wright regarding missing masters|
A redacted source attempted to determine the location of the recordings since they were considered a part of Eazy’s estate and under the protection of the court.
However, the individual soon found out that a redacted individual had them in Canada.
This person was allegedly in possession of the masters and had been sent to Canada to start a competing company also to be called Ruthless Records.
Someone even changed the voice message on the answering machine at Ruthless Records in Woodland Hills and requested callers to call a number in Ontario, Canada, for information.
The men were allegedly paid $12,500 each, but a female associated with the scam would not pay the man the rest of the money.
When a rep for Ruthless called with the FBI listening in, an unknown man answered and said a redacted source had ordered him to set up the office.
The person was terrified of the ramifications of his actions and seemed to be aware that he had gotten himself into a mess.
The person was not even worried about the legalities of stealing Eazy’s masters; he was concerned with what another, redacted individual would do to him if he came back to Los Angeles. He even offered to take a polygraph test.
“It’s really serious. He’s afraid that things will come back to him if he helps. He doesn’t know where he stands. Again, he’s not concerned with…violating any copyright laws. His concern is about [redacted]. He is afraid about not being able to come back to L.A. He’s afraid of being capped.”
In the end, the FBI decided not to investigate.
|The FBI knew somone stole masters from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony|
After Eazy’s death in March of 1995, a black market popped up for recordings by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
[T]he FBI opened an investigation into this matter and talked to a source who provided information about a female artist who knew of a man that stole some of the Cleveland group’s masters as well.
The artist “snuck” into a studio where Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had made recordings, and he made copies of the masters.
He did this while Wright was in the hospital because several of the artists became upset when they weren’t getting paid and wanted to back out of their contracts with Ruthless Records.
“The artists weren’t sure if the company would still be around it Wright died. They threatened to take their music elsewhere if they didn’t get paid. So [redacted] made the copy in case Bone Thugs-N-Harmony illegally broke their contract. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony did remain with ruthless records.”
In addition to the stolen Bone Thugs-N-Harmony music, redacted sources said someone broke it to Eazy’s house in Norwalk and stole footage of Eazy that was supposed to be used in future videos.
Charges were never pressed over the missing videos either.