'Gangsta' rapper Eazy-E in critical condition with AIDS

March 17, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Rap artist Eazy-E, a founding member of the group N.W.A. and a major figure in the commercial development of "gangsta" rap, has AIDS.

Eazy-E, whose real name is Eric Wright, was in critical condition yesterday in the intensive care ward of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Paula Correia.

Eazy-E is one of the first major music performers to announce he has AIDS. Health experts and AIDS activists said his declaration forces the public to again confront the danger of AIDS.

"It will cause many people or kids who may have just casually glossed over information about HIV to really look closer," Bishop Carl Bean, executive director of Minority AIDS Project, said yesterday of Mr. Wright's condition.

At a Hollywood news conference, Ron Sweeney, the rapper's friend and attorney, said the singer learned 2 1/2 weeks ago that he has AIDS.

As Tomika Wood, the musician's wife, stood by crying and clutching the hands of relatives, Mr. Sweeney read a statement from Eazy-E.

"I'm not religious, but wrong or right, that's me," said Mr. Wright, 31. "I'm not saying this because I'm looking for a soft cushion wherever I'm heading. I just feel I've got thousands and thousands of young fans that have to learn about what's real when it comes to AIDS."

Mr. Sweeney said both Ms. Wood and the couple's year-old son have tested negative for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

In his statement, Mr. Wright said he "would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin because I want to save [them] before it's too late."

Mr. Wright -- a self-described ex-gangster and former drug dealer -- did not say how he had contracted the AIDS virus. But in his statement, he indicated he had a number of sexual partners. "Before Tomika, I had other women. I have seven children by six different mothers. Maybe success was too good to me."

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