Some of you may have remembered Jerry Heller depicted as the manager who stole money in the movie Straight Outta Compton. However, Heller is the manager who helped introduce N.W.A. (Niggas With Attitudes) and gangster rap to the entire world. Sadly, on September 2, 2016, Jerry passed away at the age of 75 in Thousand Oaks, California. Sources reported that Jerry’s cousin Gary Ballen stated that Heller died in the hospital after suffering from a heart attack while driving.
Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright), also known as The Godfather of Gangster Rap and Jerry Heller founded Ruthless Records in 1987. In 1988, N.W.A. released their debut album Straight Outta Compton. N.W.A. included not only Eazy-E but Ice Cube, Dr.Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and in the earlier years when the group was formed Arabian Prince and D.O.C.
Straight Outta Compton was a huge success and helped push West Coast rap in the public spotlight. However, despite their success, there was a ton of controversy behind N.W.A. and the music they were releasing. Songs such as “F**k The Police” and “Boyz-N-The-Hood” made a lot of conservative people not a big fan of the group and sparked a lot of attention from police. Some seemed to believe the group belittled women, glorified or encouraged violence against police, while others believed N.W.A. were almost like journalists rapping about the struggles and reality of growing up in Compton.
The group didn’t stay together long after the success of their album Straight Outta Compton. Ice Cube left the group in 1989 while Jerry was still managing and N.W.A. pretty much went their separate ways in 1991. Eazy and Heller stayed tight while Dr.Dre and Ice Cube publicly criticized Jerry’s management skills. All the way up to his death Jerry was the “bad guy” in the eyes of Dr.Dre and Ice Cube. This is clearly shown in the film in which Jerry Heller is played by Paul Giamatti.
Nonetheless, Heller stated in an interview with Grantland “That was my period with Eazy-E. That was the period I’m most proud of.”
No one can deny Jerry’s contribution to the group’s success. Along with Eazy-E Jerry was a true visionary.
Check out Heller’s thoughts on the movie Straight Outta Compton.
Read my article on the legacy of N.W.A. here on CeeSoDope.com