In 1988 a mate of mine went to Newcastle Poly to study and handed me a C90 cassette which he’d copied. On side A was Public Enemy – “Yo Bum Rush The Show”. On Side B was Eazy E – “Eazy Does It”. At the time I would have been listening to loads of obscure hardcore punk bands. I knew about Hip Hop and was schooled on the Electro Series and acknowledged essential records like The Sugarhill Gang, Afrika Bambaata and Grandmaster Flash. Like most teenagers I knew the then current Beastie Boys album “Licensed To Ill” inside out too.
That copied C90 cassette moved Hip Hop on – A LOT. The album that took up the whole of Side A is one of the most essential Hip Hop albums of all-time (Public Enemy) despite not even being their best album (checkout their next album). That sound of a world going stir crazy brewing with raw power and real menace. The goofery of Licensed to Ill was overtaken with ease and the landscape of Hip Hop shifted hugely in such a short space of time. Yo Bum Rush The Show is the most confident debut album, of any genre, I have ever heard. It’s like Public Enemy were never small or new. They shook up music like an atom bomb.
This said, I spent an equal amount of time playing the B Side of that C90. In 1988 albums really didn’t come out with explicit material like “Eazy Duz It” did. You had to keep listening to it to check just how nuts the record was.
Preceding “Straight Outta Compton” by about a month the solo album features most members of NWA – but it’s clearly Eazy’s album. Whereas the Public Enemy album sounded like a Hip Hop underground news channel exploding and broadcasting to the globe Eazy E’s album sounded straight from the streets full of danger and violence.
There are loads of classic Hip Hop samples on the Eazy Duz It and one thing that struck you in 1988 was how fast rap was moving. Snippets from Licensed To Ill pepper the album (as they do on Yo Bum Rush The Show too). Approving nods mirrored the way thrash bands did this too at roughly the same time. Despite the brutal lyrics Eazy Duz It should make the listener smile and nod along. The album on the independent Ruthless label sold over 2 million copies with virtually no radio play for quite obvious reasons.
Is it a classic? Well yes and no. It’s not in the same league as Yo Bum Rush The Show but it is a hugely influential record. Would Eminem have the style he clearly has without Eazy E (NWA)? Probably not. Eazy Duz It is probably the first “Horrorcore” album and coupled with this it packs a lot of groove and musical understanding. Behind the ‘profanity’ are a lot of musical nods both to Hip Hops acts of the time (late 80’s) and funk from decades before.
It would be with “Straight Outta Compton” that Eazy E would hit his high point with NWA. The first three tacks on that album left with listener wide eyed and feeling like they’d been run over by a juggernaut, or just gone three rounds with Mike Tyson (again the late 80’s version). Eazy Duz It does something Straight Outta Compton doesn’t though – it maintains it quality throughout its duration. I still ponder occasionally that had NWA held their debut album back and stripped the filler and included the 100 Miles & Runnin’ material they could have a very real claim to the best Hip Hop album of all-time…