So often we are able to reconstruct our lives via the music that we listened to. In many ways, Rap Music was the soundtrack of my life. Consequently, it is not difficult for me to remember what I was doing on October 29, 1991 as it was the date that Ice Cube released his much anticipated album Death Certificate; I spent all day listening to that recording. Ice Cube had come to represent a wicked mixture of street persona and Black Nationalism that mirrored my own personal life and political development. Although I still listen to that album to this day, there is no doubt that the most memorable track on the entire album was its final cut, No Vaseline; the ultimate ‘diss’ record for his former group mates, Niggaz with Attitudes (N.W.A.).
There is no convincing Ice Cube that N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller, along with Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright, was the root cause of not only his exit from the group, but also its future decline. It was in response to an earlier ‘diss’ track by N.W.A. that publicly criticized Ice Cube that he released No Vaseline; a track that left little doubt of his feelings regarding his former group mates.
…I’ll never have dinner with the President
And when I see your ass again, I’ll be hesitant
Now I think you a snitch
Throw a house nigga in a ditch
Half-pint bitch, fuckin’ your homeboys
You little maggot Eazy E turned faggot
With your manager, fella
Fuckin’ MC Ren, Dr Dre and Yella
But if they were smart as me
Eazy E will be hangin’ from a tree
With no Vaseline
Just a match and a little bit of gasoline
Light ’em up, burn ’em up, flame on
Till that Jheri curl is gone
On a permanent vacation
Off the Massa’s plantation
Heard you both got the same bank account
Dumb nigga, what you thinkin’ ’bout?
Get rid of that Devil real simple
Put a bullet in his temple
‘Cuz you can’t be the Nigga 4 Life crew
With a white Jew tellin’ you what to do
Pullin’ wools with your scams
Now I gotta play the Silence of the Lambs
With a midget who’s a punk too
Tryin’ to fuck me, but I’d rather fuck you
Eric Wright, punk, always into somethin’
Gettin’ fucked at night
By Mista Shitpacker
Bend over for the goddamn cracker, no Vaseline
The decision by the remaining members of N.W.A. to come together and tell their story on the big screen has dredged up all types of emotions among fans, but more importantly from former N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller. There is absolutely no room to debate that Heller is painted as an exploitive and manipulative Jewish businessman who ‘discovered’ these talented Black youth and capitalized off of them in unconscionable ways. Put simply, the original members of N.W.A. — Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E, and DJ Yella — are painted as lambs to the slaughter.
Predictably, Jerry Heller has come for his portion of the nearly $200,000,000 that the biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton’ earned. Heller has filed a $110,000,000 libel lawsuit against Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, director F. Gary Gray, the estate of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, and his widow Tomica Woods-Wright, and NBC Universal that seeks $35 million in compensatory damages, $75 million in punitive damages, and all of the nearly $200 million earned at the box office.
Jerry Heller, 74, has taken significant issue with the assertion that he exploited the members of N.W.A. by forcing them to not only sign exploitive contracts, but also swindled them out of money that was rightfully theirs. No one was shocked that Heller filed the lawsuit, particularly after he attended a showing of the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ on opening with his entire legal team sitting with him in the front row.
From my perspective, the primary issue driving this lawsuit flows from the reality that it is difficult for those who have historically considered themselves superior to African-Americans to imagine that those they exploit have a narrative that does not paint them in a favorable light. Unfortunately for the downtrodden and exploited, they have historically been without either voice or platform to tell their side of the story; absent a significant platform to share their story, they tend to share their experiences with peers behind closed doors.
The ability to independently tell one’s story in their voice and from their unique perspective is what makes ‘Straight Outta Compton’ so sensational and promising for the African-American community. There is an authenticity that surrounds this story that portrays the ups and downs of N.W.A. Jerry Heller should have expected to be recalled in an unfavorable light by those he exploited for financial gain. Heller’s ludicrous expectations to not be painted in a negative light can be partially understood as it has always been exploiters such as himself who have had access to media platforms that provided them, and them only, an opportunity to explain the story. I hope that ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is the start of a series of stories told from an African-American perspective that sets the record straight on the dastardly deeds of those individuals such as Jerry Heller who have consistently exploited African-Americans.
James Thomas Jones III
#African-American News & Issues
©Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2015.