Talk about family drama!
Eazy E’s son and widow are locked in a battle surrounding the usage of E’s Ruthless Records label name.
E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright became the owner of the rap imprint after the rapper died of complications from AIDS in 1995. E’s son ― who raps under the name Lil Eazy E ― started up a website with the remarkably similar named of Ruthless Records Inc.
The website distances itself from the label in some areas while claiming to be the actual record label in others.
“Our old-school outlook mixed with cutting edge technology makes Ruthless Records Inc. a leader in the music business,” says the website, before clearly claiming to be a different project from the record label. “Eazy-E’s first-born son and longtime friend are carrying on the legacy that started it all.”
However, in other parts of the website, Lil E and his business partner Arnold White claim that they were “founded by legendary gangsta rap artist Eazy-E” which seems like a clear attempt to confuse the reader into thinking the label and the website are one in the same. The website also sells merchandise with Ruthless Records name and logo on it.
Woods-Wright filed a lawsuit against E’s son and White, alleging that they infringed upon the trademark that she owns. And she probably has a case. White and Lil Eazy E tried to trademark Ruthless Records Inc. for themselves in the past and had their application denied because it was too similar to the existing Ruthless Records trademark.
Ruthless Records was started in the late ‘80s by Eazy-E in order to push his group (with Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella and MC Ren) N.W.A. The first success it saw was via Eazy E’s solo single “Boyz-n-the-hood,” a song written for the rapper by Ice Cube. That song’s B-Side “Dopeman” also garnered a pretty huge amount of success for a radically new and gritty style of rap.
The label found massive success early, with mega-hit albums from N.W.A. like Straight Outta Compton, successful solo releases like E’s Eazy-Duz-It and hits from acts outside the circle like The D.O.C. and JJ Fad.
In later days, it was home to another refreshing rap experiment in Cleveland’s Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony. The success of the albums from these singing rappers and Eazy proteges kept the label flush well after Eazy’s death.
Was It Intentional?
What do you think? Are Lil Eazy E and White out of line? Could they reasonably think that people would be able to distinguish between their own Ruthless Records, Inc. and the actual Ruthless Records? Or was this all an attempt to cash in on the name of something that isn’t theirs? Should E’s stepmother have sued her stepson or was there another way to work this out?
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