Eazy-E founded Ruthless Records in 1986 as a platform for his upstart group, N.W.A. Now, more than 30 years later — and more than 20 years after the rapper’s death — his widow and son are battling over who controls the Ruthless name.
Tomica Woods-Wright, the widow, has owned the company since Eazy-E’s death. On Tuesday, she filed a federal trademark infringement suit against her stepson, Eric Darnell Wright, who goes by “Lil Eazy-E.”
The suit alleges that Wright and his business partner, Arnold White, have set up a website — ruthlessrecordsinc.com — in which they claim to be doing business as Ruthless Records. The site promotes concerts and offers Ruthless Records t-shirts for sale.
“Our old-school outlook mixed with cutting edge technology makes Ruthless Records Inc. a leader in the music business,” the website claims. “Eazy-E’s first-born son and longtime friend are carrying on the legacy that started it all.” The site also claims that Ruthless Records Inc. was “founded by legendary gangsta rap artist Eazy-E.”
According to the suit, White and Wright attempted to trademark “Ruthless Records Inc.” in 2016, but the application was rejected because it was too similar to Ruthless Records. The suit also alleges that the pair incorporated as NWA-LLC, and are also infringing on the N.W.A trademark.
Ruthless Records Inc. did not immediately return a request for comment.