It's possible to uncover aspects of a person's disposition just by watching him perform, chat with fans, and engaging with him in a minichat. Last night, when Lil Eazy E paid tribute to his father at Green Room's Brown Bag Wednesdays in Fort Lauderdale, it was pretty clear from his enthusiasm onstage and his kind way with those wanting his picture that Eric Wright Junior is a nice guy.
He looks like his father, same sweet, soft features. He wore a baseball cap, proudly written upon it "Compton," and a Ruthless Records T-shirt, representing his late father's hometown and record label. This performance of both NWA and Eazy E classics as well as picks from his own catalog was the kickoff to a larger summer tour. The actualization of a tribute show happened in August, when Lil Eazy E performed with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in Minneapolis.
"Performing my father's songs and performing with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was just a dream. Being a kid and seeing my father put them out and now being on the road, performing with them was just beautiful," Wright said.
"The inspiration I get from the fans who love my father," he noted, is what drives him. He thinks the fans see the similarities not just in their faces but in their style.
The 20th anniversary of Ruthless and an upcoming biopic on NWA organized by Dr. Dre both prompted this endeavor. "I'm getting into shape and form," Wright says. "You grow up wanting your father after he passed away when you're 10 years old. It's easy to follow and trace what he does and who he is. Some of it is natural, just genetics, come from being his junior." There are rumors
that Wright will play the role of his father in the film Straight Outta Compton.
The younger Wright is still only in his 20s and lives in Los Angeles, but he hasn't forgotten the place where the gangsta legacy was born. "I still got my house where they started NWA out in Compton. I'm routinely in Compton throughout the week," he says of the old neighborhood. "It's changed, and it's got the same."
Of Eazy E's music, he says what sticks is "the realism in it. You can't respect a fad; you can't respect something that isn't natural." Everyone responds to Eazy's music, from thugs to suburban kids. "There was no color line when it came to my father. Everybody loved Eazy E, the real motherfucking G that he was.
"The comfortability we had" was what Wright most remembers about his father. He shared a memory, a scene that took place right before Eazy E passed away from complications of the AIDS virus. He remembers "him being in the shower and calling me in while he's naked and him asking me, 'Hey, how does this song sound?' I laughed about it in my head, 'cause it's like, 'You're Daddy -- everything's good!" he chuckles. "He really cared about what I felt about a song."
Wright is also getting prepped to release a single of his own. "I finally found a time and the right niche," he says. While many live awkwardly in the shadow of their fathers, especially those whose fathers accomplished so much as musicians, Eric Wright Jr. embraces his father's memory, legacy, and talent, and it seems he's finding his own voice through that of his dad's.