Still Ruthless..The Inner workings of NWA..Intv w/ Jerry Heller

In this interview segment which originally aired Oct 21 2010, we sat down and chop it up with late Eazy E’s business partner and former NWA manager Jerry Heller who just released a book of his memoirs called ‘Ruthless’.

Not only does Heller meticulously detail the inner workings and all the behind the scenes dirt that went on with NWA, he also goes into great detail about the seedy music world of Rock-N-Roll’s hey day in the 60s and 70s where he played a key role. Make no mistake the music biz is definitely grimy.

In this segment we talk to Heller about the music biz in the hey days of Rock-N-Roll. Heller talks about all the key players that he came up with and rolled with including people like the late Bill Graham, David Geffen, Clive Davis and many more. He talks about how he actually was responsible for bringing Elton John to the US and giving him his first break.

Heller breaks down the rough and tumble tactics of old-time music guys and explains that while much of it was mob controlled and sometimes seedy ‘it was fair and that there were fast and hard rules that everyone played by’. He noted that all that changed and went out the window when Death Row CEO Suge Knight came in the game.

Heller talked to us about the importance of negotiating and striking good deals. It’s a key highlight in his book and during the interview he explained how and why Ruthless stayed successful while other small labels which actually sold more records like Delicious Vinyl wound up folding because of bad deals.

Eazy E w/ Jerry heller

Eazy E w/ Jerry heller

He explains the type of relationship he and Eazy E had and how each of them brought a certain style, flare and business insight to the table that allowed Ruthless to be one of the music industry’s most successful record labels. He explained the decision behind rejecting Eazy E’s initial offer to go into business 50/50. He felt that Ruthless should 100% Black owned and that he would work for Eazy. He described Eazy as his best friend and one of the smartest men he had ever met.

He also recounted how the pair first met. Heller said that Eazy offered Alonzo Williams of the World Class Wrecking Crew 750 dollars to introduce him. It was at this meeting that Eazy played a rough cut of the now classic record ‘Boyz in the Hood’. He described the song as Gill Scott Heron, the Last Poets, The Black Panthers and the Rollingstones all rolled into one.

Click link below to peep pt1 of our interview w/ Jerry Heller

Still Ruthless An Interview w/ Former NWA Manager Jerry Heller pt2

Click HERE to peep pt2 of our interview w/ Jerry Heller

In this segment Heller talks at length about the early rap scene in LA and how he got involved via Macola Records which housed West Coast pioneering acts like Egyptian Lover, LA Dream Team, World Class Wrecking Crew, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Ice T and JJ Fad to name a few.

In this segment Heller talks about why he called NWA the Black Beatles which each player MC Ren, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, Dr Dre and Eazy E all holding down key roles. Cube was the chief lyricists, Dr was the beat maker, Eazy was the conceptualizer while Heller was the financier.

Lastly we talked at length about the crack game and the type of impact it had in the community and how it was reflected in NWA’s music.

In part 2 Heller opens up and airs it out about Ice Cube and refutes Cube’s claims about him not getting paid.  Heller breaks out some solid numbers and contractual breakdowns to illustrate his point. He also touches upon the situation he had with Dr Dre and Suge Knight when they formed Death Row Records.

Heller also detailed the situations that lead up to the group doing the song F—Tha Police and the reaction to it including the infamous letter from the FBI. Heller noted that they recently discovered that Al Gore’s wife Tipper Gore may have been a key reason that ominous letter was sent out.

We also talked about Eazy E’s visit to the White House where he sat down and met George Bush Sr in the aftermath of the FBI/ Police backlash. For Eazy it was brilliant marketing ploy.

Heller also laid out the circumstances behind the death threats Eazy E received and how it was discovered that he was on hit list by some Neo-Nazi-Skinheads. The FBI never bothered to inform Eazy that his life was in danger.  Heller speculates that it may have been because of the F– Tha Police song.

Heller talked about the relationship Eazy E had with the now defunct Jewish Defense League (JDL) and how he admired the group for their slogan ‘Never Again’.  In fact Eazy had plans to do a movie about the group.

Jerry Heller details the inner workings of NWA

nwa original-225We talked about the recent revelations of JDL members supposedly extorting money from rap artists including the late 2Pac. Heller claims he had no knowledge of that, but it was no secret that in the aftermath of the Suge Knight shake down incident where Eazy was forced to sign over Dr Dre, Michele and DOC, that Ruthless was protected by Israeli trained/ connected security forces.

Our conversation later turned to a brief discussion of Black-Jewish relationships in the music industry. Heller felt that the partnership him and Eazy formed was model one and that it helped build lots of bridges.

We concluded our interview with Heller talking about some of his upcoming projects including starting a new record label that focuses on Latino Rap and Music with a message

Click the link below to peep pt2 of our Interview with Jerry Heller

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Comments

  1. hiphopnewsmedia says:

    whoa this is HUGE. props on the story

  2. RobThomas says:

    After all of Heller’s interviews and his book, it all comes down to one defense: Every other exec was screwing their artists, too. Fair enough. But then this would make him just that, a sleazy exec, per his own admission, and little more. Not a hip hop pioneer of any kind. And, let’s face it, as a white man myself I think we can all assert that no white man can really take any kind of credit for hip hop’s commercial success, gangsta or otherwise. Black artists, producers, and label owners had to break through every wall on their own. If it were up to the Jerry Hellers of the industry, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube would still be making records for him while living with their parents.

  3. That’s a classic shot of Eazy in that USC sweater, I remember all the members of Above The Law used to wear those around the time of Rap Masters magazine. Really impressed with your work Dave. This interview was a real treat. Heller got bashed alot over the times but one can’t deny his stamp on the Los Angeles hip hop scene. I mean if he was down wit Eazy he can’t be that bad. Yo, I heard that Bush was from Compton??? Maybe that was the reason that the E had dinner wit em. Great interview man.

  4. It’s true that Heller helped Eazy E build Ruthless Records into one of the greatest Indi hip hop labels ever ( which was later destroyed by Eazy’s widow Tomika Wright). But in my mind I still hold him responsible for breaking up one of the best rap groups to ever touch a mic.

  5. Jerry got some nice thing on that lap (RED)

  6. say word

  7. smh

  8. RobThomas says:

    “Heller felt that the partnership him and Eazy formed was model one”

    So that explains commercial hip hop today.

  9. You can’t knock the moves Eazy made, he was a pioneer and Heller was a part of that. Whether Heller is telling the whole truth…. like it or not, case closed

  10. cool do ya thing bro…

  11. FBI investigating claims that the JDL was extorting Easy E and Tupac. http://vault.fbi.gov/Tupac%20Shakur%20/Tupac%20Shakur%20Part%201%20of%201/view

  12. This man killed Eazy E.

  13. Jerry Heller screwed people like Dre out of money by using cross collateralization.

    Meaning if one of Eazy E’s artists such as JJ Fad went over budget or didn’t sell enough records, tickets etc it would be deducted from Dre’s pockets.

    If you look at the lawsuit Eazy E filed he also mentioned DICK GRIFFEY of Solar Records and TOMMY MOTTOLA but only Suge Knight gets brought up.

    Eazy E is dead so he can’t defend himself but everyone knows Heller & Mike Klein wanted Eazy out of the picture so he could control the company.

  14. coool

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