Eazy-E, the gangsta rap pioneer who died of AIDS complications in 1995, led a life of mixed intentions and results. As head of both N.W.A. and Ruthless Records, he did as much as anyone to bring South Central Los Angeles' problems to national attention, though his music also helped glorify a life of violence, misogyny, and criminality that became a caricature of his neighborhood.
Str8 Off Tha Streetz posthumously releases music from the rapper's final years. Far from being a haunting voice from the grave, the record makes no mention of Eazy's disease--the only deaths here come by way of gun or baseball bat. On the other hand, the album also contains Eazy's spoken defense of gangsta rap ("We're underground reporters...") and some of his best songs. In particular, two tracks co-written and produced by Naughty By Nature ("Nutz on Ya Chin" and "Hit the Hooker") contain memorable hooks and impeccable mixing. --Roni Sarig