Ruthless Records is the label created by N.W.A. founders Eazy-E and Dr. Dre along with their former manager Jerry Heller. Dr. Dre left the label in the early ‘90s to establish Death Row Records with Suge Knight (and we all know how that turned out), while Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright took over as owner of Ruthless Records (which is the d/b/a for Compton Records). The label’s acts still include N.W.A. (who were recently considering a reunion tour), Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, and Lil Eazy-E, eldest son of Eazy-E. But as Billboard reports, there’s some a brewing legal battle among family members. Woods-Wright has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Lil Eazy-E and rapper Bigg A for launching a company also named Ruthless Records.
The suit claims Lil Eazy-E has been operating a site called Ruthless Records Inc. through which he’s been selling merchandise with its name. This business has a mission statement that describes it as “globally recognized brand, developing music and marketing in a whole new way,” which is certainly true of the original Ruthless Records. But it continues: “Eazy-E’s first-born son and longtime friend are carrying on the legacy that started it all. With Eric Lil Eazy-E Wright Jr as President, Ruthless Records Inc. is on a mission to bring music back to life in a whole new way for a whole new era.” The thing is, Compton Records owns the Ruthless Records name, and that “Inc.” at the end might not leave wiggle room for the defendants. No specific monetary amount has been named in the suit, but Woods-Wright is seeking “punitive and statutory damages, costs of suit and attorneys fees and ‘further relief as the Court may deem just and appropriate.’”