Eazy's main influences included 1970s funk groups, contemporary rappers, and comedians. When reviewing Eazy's albums, many critics noted his unique overall style, with Steve Huey of the All Music Guide summing up: "While his technical skills as a rapper were never the greatest, his distinctive delivery... over-the-top lyrics, and undeniable charisma made him a star."
Eric Wright was born to Richard and Kathie Wright on September 7, 1963, in Compton, California, a Los Angeles suburb notorious for gang activity and crime. His father was a postal worker and his mother was a grade school administrator. Wright dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, but later received a high-school general equivalency diploma (GED).
No one survived on the streets without a protective mask. No one survived naked. You had to have a role. You had to be "thug," "playa," "athlete," "gangsta," or "dope man." Otherwise, there was only one role left to you. "Victim."
Wright supported himself primarily by selling drugs, introduced to the occupation by his cousin. Wright's friend Jerry Heller admits that he witnessed Wright selling marijuana, but says that he never saw him sell cocaine. As Heller noted in his book Ruthless: A Memoir, Wright's "dope dealer" label was part of his "self-forged armor". Wright was also labeled as a "thug". Heller explains: "The hood where he grew up was a dangerous place. He was a small guy. 'Thug' was a role that was widely understood on the street; it gave you a certain level of protection in the sense that people hesitated to fuck with you. Likewise, 'dope dealer' was a role that accorded you certain privileges and respect."
In 1986, at the age of 22, Wright had allegedly earned as much as US$250,000 from dealing drugs. However, after his cousin was shot and killed, he decided that he could make a better living in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene, which was growing rapidly in popularity. He started recording songs during the mid-1980s in his parents' garage.
The original idea for Ruthless Records came when Wright asked Heller to go into business with him. Wright suggested a half-ownership company, but it was later decided that Wright would get eighty percent of the company's income, and Heller would only get twenty percent. According to Heller, he told Wright, "Every dollar comes into Ruthless, I take twenty cents. That's industry standard for a manager of my caliber. I take twenty, you take eighty percent. I am responsible for my expenses, and you're responsible for yours. You own the company. I work for you." Along with Heller, Wright invested much of his money into Ruthless Records. Heller claims that he invested the first $250,000, and would eventually put up to $1,000,000 into the company.