About Ruthless Records
Ruthless Records is an imprint record label formed by Gangsta rapper Eazy-E with partner Jerry Heller in Eazy-E's home town of Compton, California in 1987. The label is credited with pioneering the gangsta rap genre of West Coast hip hop, and later, G-funk. They even began the career of will.i.am, in a group called Atban Klann. With Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, Eazy-E formed the rap group N.W.A.. Other artists on the label included Above the Law, Penthouse Players Clique, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, The D.O.C., Blood of Abraham, Dre Be Gone (album recorded, but never released), DJ DTM (producer for Eazy E. on dre Be Gone's unreleased album.), Steffon, Young E, Kokane, Brownside, Tairrie B, Frost, A.L.T., Shaki aka Dirty Red, Slow Pain, N.W.A., Laylaw, Mister D & Sleepy Malo, Leicy Loc, Menajahtwa, Black Eyed Peas formely known back then as Atban Klann (although no album dropped,) Daddy X and J.J. Fad.
In 1995, Eazy-E was diagnosed with AIDS and died shortly thereafter. After his death, the label was taken over by his wife, Tomica Wright. Ruthless Records is now a division of Epic Records. The label has had several distributors simultaneously. Early Ruthless releases were distributed by Macola Records, but that deal was short lived and the rights reverted to Ruthless. All of N.W.A's releases and Eazy-E's first two solo releases on Ruthless were distributed by Priority Records, and the rights to these releases are now held by Priority's new owner, Capitol Records. Releases by The D.O.C., Michel'le, and JJ Fad were marketed through Atlantic Records or its subsidiary Atco Records. These master rights are still held by Atlantic's parent company, Warner Music Group, while Above The Law's releases were marketed through Epic Records. In the early 1990s, Ruthless found more exclusive distribution through Relativity Records, formerly a heavy metal label. Relativity was later folded into its parent company, Sony Music.