A lot of ink has been spent describing how Eazy-E made peace with his former friends Dr. Dre and Ice Cube on what was essentially his deathbed. His passing pretty much killed any possible N.W.A. reunion, as evidenced by the fact that any later collaboration between various combinations of The World's Most Dangerous Group (with an occasional aside from Snoop Dogg) never really resonated with the public.
A year and a half prior to this monumental event in hip hop history, though, Eazy-E flat-out hated Dr. Dre.
In 1992, Andre Young found a way to get out of his contract with Eric's Ruthless Records: by force. In partnering up with Marion "Suge" Knight, Dre found a kindred spirit, someone who also believed that Dre should be making some money off of his own fucking work. (Sure, Suge allegedly strongarmed Dre out of his earnings later, but Andre didn't see that coming in 1992.) Eazy was rightfully pissed that his cash cow was snatched out away from under him (because MC Ren wasn't exactly raking in the dough), so he scrapped what was supposed to be his next project, something called Temporary Insanity (as the first time I heard of this album was on Wikipedia, I'm prone not to believe it), and instead crafted an EP declaring all-out war on Dr. Dre and his right-hand man Snoop Doggy Dogg, mainly because of all of the random shit-talking that transpired on Dre's debut The Chronic.
That EP, awkwardly titled It's On
Yeah, that last paragraph was nice and all, but I've never actually listened to It's On
1. EXXTRA SPECIAL THANKS
I have to admit, Eric's verbal assault on both Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg actually does set the tone for what I'm expecting to hear on this EP. A rap album intro that isn't useless? Wow.
2. REAL MUTHAPHUCKKIN' G'S (FEAT B.G. KNOCC OUT & DRESTA)
Dr. Dre clearly won the war, what with his many successes in the music industry and Eazy being dead and all (too soon?), but I've always preferred this dis track over “Fuck Wit Dre Day”. B.G. Knocc Out and Dresta are decent enough behind the mic, I suppose, but I don't ever want to hear them not talking smack about Death Row Records, as this seems to be their calling. But Eazy's two verses steal the show, with venom encircling Eric's words like a babbling creek, a feat he would never again attain. Rhythm D's beat grabs your attention immediately, and Eazy's threats have a perfect mixture of humor and reality to them (a lot of folks forget that Eazy-E made a lot of money off of The Chronic). This still sounds fucking awesome today, both in your car and in your earbuds. One of the finest dis tracks ever recorded. And yes, I'm completely serious.
3. ANY LAST WERDZ (FEAT COLD 187UM & KOKANE)
On the cassette maxi-single of “Real Muthaphuckkin' G's” (which was released to radio in the altered form of “Real Compton G's”, a diluted track that still packed a surprising punch), “Any Last Werdz” appeared immediately after the main attraction, making this the only other song from It's On
4. STILL A N---A
Over a simple Yella instrumental (remember that guy?), Eazy tries to prove that his past success hasn't changed his overall demeanor. I have to give the man some credit: I truly anticipated this entire EP being a huge middle finger to Andre Young, but Eric has proven over the past couple of tracks that he's looking at the big picture, and Dr. Dre only plays a small cameo role in his life story. Which is surprising, considering Dre's name appears in the goddamn title of the album. (Imagine Curtis Jackson naming his major label debut Get Rich or Kill Ja Rule. What would you expect the entire album to be about?) Eric's ranting is far more polished here than on any previous disc in his catalog, but this track is still merely okay, as it is fairly predictable in the way that gangsta rap tends to be.
5. GIMME THAT NUTT
Yella's beat is pretty fucking amazing, almost too good for Eric Wright to waste with such a generic sex rap. Someone needs to jack this beat ASAP for promotional use only: this sounds like the kind of instrumental J-Zone would have given Eric had they had the opportunity to work together. Including references to N.W.A.'s previous (superior) sex raps renders this track a throwback gift to fans who have followed up to this point. Unnecessary, but it has its merits.
6. IT'S ON
Rhythm D's approximation of a Dr. Dre beat circa The Chronic is perfect for Eazy to trash talk his former friend and the new guy on the scene (lest we forget, Snoop dragged himself into the fray by pledging allegiance to Dr. Dre and proclaiming that “Eazy-E can eat a big fat dick” on “Fuck Wit Dre Day”; you'll notice that Eazy hasn't really taken shots at anybody else on the label, because they all kept their mouths shut). “Real Muthaphuckkin' G's” is the far better track, but this is still a pretty entertaining sleeper hit, even though Eric treads the same water that he threw into Dre's face on the previous dis song.
7. BOYZ N THA HOOD (G-MIX)
While it's old news that Eazy-E made money off of The Chronic as a condition of releasing Dre from his Ruthless Records contract (I wrote about that five songs ago, you two! Keep up!), I wonder if Dre made any residual checks for this unneeded remix of a track that he produced for Eazy back in the day. Probably not, since Eazy and Jerry Heller notoriously fucked him out of money in his contract: maybe this song was included on the EP as yet another fuck-you to his face? Or maybe Eric Wright ran out of ideas and decided that what this project really needed was a filler track that could double as a bathroom break. Who knows?
8. DOWN 2 THA LAST ROACH (FEAT B.G. KNOCC OUT, ASH TREY (KOKANE), MR. ROACH CLIP (EAZY-E), & SHAKI)
For the final track of the evening, Eazy-E and his friends lead you to believe that they will focus solely on Dr. Dre's seemingly backwards progression from a drug-free rapper who doesn't smoke weed or cess (“Because it's known to cause brain damage”, as he says on N.W.A.'s “Express Yourself”) to a guy who loves the green so much that he named his debut album The Chronic. However, the song is simply about the joys of getting “high like a motherfucker”; Eazy and his friends use their goofy aliases and voice distortion software to simulate the feeling one gets after smoking himself stupid, but the overall effect is more annoying than entertaining, not unlike Dre's “The Roach (The Chronic Outro)”. The educational interlude midway through was fairly interesting, though. There was no reason that this absolutely had to last longer than fucking seven minutes.
THE LAST WORD: It's On
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