Eternal E [Gangsta Memorial Edition]

by: Eazy-E

Eazy-E enjoyed only a brief recording career, but the few albums and EPs he did release -- on his own as well as with his group, N.W.A -- were tremendously influential, setting the stage for the proliferation of West Coast gangsta rap in the early '90s. Showcasing some of the pioneering gangsta's most influential recordings, Eternal E serves as a summary of Eazy's solo highlights, including a couple N.W.A songs but only ones that were solo showcases. You get the standout songs from Eazy's debut album, Eazy-Duz-It (1988), as well as the bulk of his follow-up EP, 5150 Home 4 tha Sick (1992). But Eternal E stops there, unfortunately not including anything from the first-rate It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa EP or the third-rate Str8 off tha Streetz album. (Eazy's label, Ruthless, left its parent label, Priority, at this point, and Eternal E is a Priority release, meaning that post-Priority recordings such as those on It's On would have to be licensed for inclusion here -- a price the label seems unwilling to pay.) Even if Eternal E doesn't round up a full career retrospective, it does feature Eazy's key songs, namely his earliest ones, which boasted cutting-edge production work by Dr. Dre. So this best-of does serve its purpose fairly well, and might be the only Eazy album you'll need. Still, if it's one and only one Eazy album you want, you'd be better off with Priority's Eazy-Duz-It reissue from 2002, which includes that entire album plus the entire 5150 EP appended as bonus tracks -- giving you mostly everything here and much more. Either way though, you're getting a good portrait of Eazy's best solo music, with the exception of the It's On EP, which you'll definitely want to hear if you're a fan. [In 2005 Priority issued a Gangsta Memorial Edition that goes a long way toward making Eternal E definitive. Like the 2003 reissue, this edition adds a song each from It's On and Str8 (a move that is still cheap and still leaves more to be desired, but is better than nothing). It goes much further though, adding a bonus DVD with nine videos, including N.W.A ones like "Straight Outta Compton" and "100 Miles and Runnin'." These videos are classics and alone may be worth the increased price of admission. There's also a new bonus track, "A Lil' Eazier Said" -- a tribute to Eazy by his son, Lil' E, who raps over a sample of "Eazy-er Said Than Dunn." It's inessential but touching. Lastly, there's a hyperbolic liner essay that frames Eazy's life in terms of a saint, which is a debatable notion, to say the least.] ~ Jason Birchmeier

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