Preface: People are gonna see what they want to see & ignore the evidence they don't like. There are conspiracy theories (or "alternate theories") behind EVERY celebrity death & major news story in history: JFK's assassination, the moon landing, Kurt Cobain's suicide, 2Pac's murder, Elvis's death, etc. Even upon seeing the death certificate & hearing from the coroner's mouth what happened, conspiracy theorists will remain steadfast in their beliefs that THEIR theory is correct. So be it.
The truth doesn't need anyone's belief or faith for it to be true. Facts aren't affected by your feelings. When choosing who & what to believe, it's best to look to sources that provide additional references to support their claims & who have some degree of knowledge about the subject at hand. Since this topic involves HIV/AIDS, it's vital that the person studying it have a basic understanding of how the disease works. That's where many online discussions of Eazy's death fall apart.
I'm putting this info out to counter all the ridiculous narratives that have hit the internet since the NWA movie came out in particular. Not because I was a huge Eazy-E fan but because this is the same stubbornness that lead to his death & the high HIV rates in the Black community. The recurring theme that straight people don't get AIDS; that people with HIV always look sick, that the sex partners of HIV+ people always contract the disease. Those are just a few examples of the myths that get repeated ad nauseum when it comes to the Eazy-E death story. His proteges Bone thugs-n-harmony (who I am a huge fan of) have said on tape that they think "something funny had to go on" regarding his death. His own daughter is working on a documentary focused on "exposing the truth" about his "suspicious" death. And the NWA biopic itself contained references to a conspiracy when Suge (Knight) said "I'll change you, boy." 🙊
Let's look at the straight-up boring facts, shall we?
Eazy-E lived the fast life he rapped about in his songs. While he wasn't the exaggerated cartoon character he portrayed onstage, he did tote guns, smoke a ton of weed & have a lot of sex. A lot. It's safe to say he was probably a sex addict. Prior to joining NWA he was a Crip who sold drugs locally despite growing up in a stable middle class family. It's not known whether he ever spent time in prison as he dodged this question when asked about it on Howard Stern. If he DID, that would've increased his exposure to the HIV virus since prisons are a hotbed of the disease. Eazy was a very short & small-framed man who probably wouldn't have fared well in prison. He even had a saying: "N****s my height don't fight."
|Living the gang life as a Kelly Park Compton Crip|
The time period in which NWA were at their peak of fame also coincided with the peak of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Groupies were a major part of life for the band as evidenced by their songs & interviews. They were very open about their lifestyle. Nothing wrong with that--they were merely living the rockstar life that so many other bands enjoyed. The problem was actively avoiding condoms during this dangerous time when having sex with countless strangers. Eazy allegedly had group sex & would leave women stranded in his houses for days afterward. There are stories of him sneaking off at a Guns-n-Roses concert to fuck a random girl in the bathroom. He had 7 kids by 6 women (that we know of). Plenty of proof of his horndog ways.
|Early incarnation of NWA (Eazy-E 2nd from left)|
Point being, the man was highly promiscuous at the most deadly time in history to be having unprotected sex. So what's so unbelievable about him contracting HIV? People close to him found it highly suspect how fast he went from apparently healthy to dead, though even that becomes less suspicious when you put it under the microscope. The first mention of him losing a drastic amount of weight was in a July 1993 blurb from a rap magazine.
|35 lb. weight loss. That's significant. Typical AIDS symptom.|
Note that it mentions also extreme fatigue, which is a well-known symptom of advanced HIV. Rather than seeing a doctor about the dramatic weight loss & fatigue, Eazy pushes through & continues with his superhuman schedule as an entrepreneur. He also looked mighty thin in various appearances in '94, such as this one:
|Eazy in 1994 on Yo! MTV Raps|
This disproves what conspiracy theorists say about him "suddenly" becoming ill with a cough in '95 & then dying out of nowhere. Eazy's heavy use of weed likely helped keep his appetite up, which delayed the severe wasting some AIDS patients experience. In fact, AIDS was one of the first conditions for which medical marijuana was studied. Eazy both smoked & sold weed until the very end of his life. He was self-medicating without knowing it.
For those who wonder why he wasn't diagnosed until so late in the illness, how was he supposed to be diagnosed if he avoided going to the doctor for his symptoms? HIV tests aren't a part of routine blood work--you have to request them. Despite having the resources, Eazy clearly put off getting help for his condition as long as possible. Sadly, health isn't always a first priority in the certain communities--particularly those from low-income backgrounds. When your basic needs like eating, surviving violence & paying the rent aren't being met, going to the doctor regularly isn't a priority. Even though E had money in his later life, he was likely hard-headed about healthcare & not expecting to be gravely ill at his age anyway. Old habits die hard.
|Summer '94 event, looking gaunt|
The other argument of conspiracy theorists is, why didn't ANY of E's women or mistresses contract the virus? He was clearly having unprotected sex with a LOT of women & even had a child born months after he died. Why wasn't his wife Tomica Woods infected? Well, the problem with that is we will never know for sure whether she or any of E's partners is HIV+ because the AIDS cocktail meds came out in 1996 for widespread public use shortly after he died. These medications have given people with the virus a new lease on life, allowing them to live normal lifespans without showing outward signs of illness.
Aside from that, there's the whole privacy factor: HIV isn't exactly a stigma-free disease. There's plenty of reason those women wouldn't have come forward to announce their illness if they WERE infected: job discrimination, interpersonal problems, homelessness, etc. AIDS patients were heavily discriminated against in the '80s & '90s, with many families even disowning their dying children. So assuming these women would've come forward & announced their status is a flawed premise. Even now, people aren't rushing to disclose their status with people other than sexual partners. Would you?
But there's also the very real possibility that none of them were infected. Strange as it sounds, this is the most likely scenario. Just look at porn star John C. Holmes, who continued having unprotected sex in adult films with full-blown AIDS to support his drug habit & never infected his co-stars or partner. Cookie Johnson allegedly never seroconverted despite a long marriage to Magic. Actor Brad Davis died of AIDS while his wife never contracted the disease. Same for Arthur Ashe & his wife. I assume they weren't using condoms in their marriage. (Who does?) This goes to show just how fickle HIV can be in terms of transmission. It truly is Russian roulette when it comes to who will be infected. A matter of chance. As stated, some activities are higher risk than others but unprotected heterosexual intercourse IS a route of transmission even with no additional risk factors.
|John C. Holmes: porn star who fucked raw with full-blown AIDS. A devil indeed.|
This brings us to the ridiculous notion that Suge Knight "injected Eazy with AIDS" (which is medically impossible because AIDS is a syndrome caused by a slow-moving virus). This comes from a throwaway comment he made on a late-night comedy show in 2001 while talking to Jimmy Kimmel. We can tell the comment was a rehearsed joke because Kimmel was ready with his "terror alert" chart immediately after Suge made the tasteless joke, which you can see in the clip below. If you listen closely you'll also notice Suge says "40 mules and an acre," so...yeah. Not the sharpest tool.
Suge & Eazy were natural enemies in the early '90s due to contractual battles over who would sign rapper Dr. Dre to their label. While Suge did show up with baseball bats & some henchmen to threaten Eazy into signing him over to Death Row, the notion that he also "injected Eazy with AIDS" is pure fiction. Suge only wishes he could take credit for the downfall of his rival, but the man is neither that smart nor that competent. His only talent was bullying people & using his muscle to intimidate. He also had backup from the Bloods street gang who would do all kinds of dirty work for him, but physical violence is as far as it went with the brute. He's no mad scientist.
And what about Tomica? She ended up with the record label & the estate after a rushed wedding ceremony in the hospital as Eazy lay on his deathbed, out of his mind from advanced AIDS. People have been suspicious of her for a long time and, while she definitely did profit from his death financially, that doesn't mean she somehow caused it. Imagine being pregnant with this man's child & finding out he's dying of a transmissible disease that you & your baby may also have. That couldn't have been a pleasant experience. He had to leave the record label to somebody and, having just fallen out with Jerry Heller, he decided to leave it to Tomica...a decision that turned out to be a bad one in the end. She had no experience running a label & ran Ruthless into the ground, but those are the kind of rushed decisions one makes when dying unexpectedly. The will was drawn up on the spot & the rest is history. Perhaps he should've had his affairs in order before something tragic happened. Anyone worth that much money should already have a will in place, especially with that many kids & others depending on them for their livelihood.
There have been various other claims, such as the one that E contracted the virus from "tainted acupuncture needles," which is so retarded it doesn't bear exploring. But the "Jerry Heller did it" theory is probably the most common of the Big 3. Yes, the timing was weird. Eazy fell ill almost immediately after firing Jerry & his brother Terry from Ruthless Records. But AIDS doesn't work like that. There is no fast-acting AIDS that would allow you to infect someone in February (around the time Jerry was fired) & have them dead by March. And it was confirmed by Eazy's doctors that he did indeed die from AIDS, not some other unnamed mystery disease. His symptoms of gradually increasing weight loss, fatigue, cough & difficulty breathing all support an AIDS diagnosis. Heller would've had to somehow give Eazy the HIV virus 5-10 years earlier for this theory to pan out, which is...uh...no.
So let's recap:
Mid-1993: Unexplained weight loss of 35 lbs. + extreme exhaustion noted in rap magazine.
1994: Continued noticeable weight loss in photos & videos.
January 1995: Cough begins.
February 24th: Is hospitalized for cough + difficulty breathing & is diagnosed with full-blown AIDS when his T-cell count is near zero (see video below featuring Eazy's doctor William Young).
March 26th: Dies of pneumocystis pneumonia caused by Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
There was also some weird behavior in January of '95 in which E inexplicably walks off into the freezing cold New York night after an evening of partying at a club called The Tunnel, which could point to confusion caused by AIDS-related dementia. Everyone allegedly told him not to walk away without a coat as he would freeze to death, yet he insisted on doing so for no apparent reason. This was shortly before he fell seriously ill so it would fit with the timeline of full-blown AIDS, but it's just a guess on my part.
Both Bone Thugs & Ice Cube witnessed this event & cite it as out of character for him but they don't make the connection with dementia, instead asserting that it might've been the night he acquired the cough. But the truth is, you don't catch a cold OR pneumonia from being physically cold--both illnesses are caused by infectious pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc) so this wouldn't have been accurate. The pneumonia that killed him, pneumocystis, is caused by an opportunistic fungus & causes fatigue, cough, chest pain & difficulty breathing--all symptoms Eazy suffered in his final days. And it only strikes those with a severely depressed immune system such as AIDS patients.
Assuming Eazy first showed AIDS signs in mid-'93 with the weight loss & fatigue, that would put his likely time of infection between 1986 & 1988 since the average time from infection to AIDS is 5-7 years. But incubation periods can stretch all the way to 10 years in some rare cases, so he could've contracted it as far back as 1983. Once full-blown AIDS sets in, it's usually 1 to 2 years before death without any treatment. All of this lines up with what we know about E's timeline of symptoms.
Like cancer, AIDS isn't a one-size-fits-all disease: the course is different for everyone, as evidenced by the wildly different incubation periods & infections that ultimately develop. It's legitimate to ask why Eazy remained healthy looking for so long, but consider all the additional factors in his lifestyle. Many of the gay men who succumbed to the disease early in the epidemic were co-infected with the Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV-8) which is the cause of Kaposi's Sarcoma--the big purple cancer spots typical of AIDS patients in the '80s. These are the patients we automatically associate with AIDS in our minds since they made up the bulk of cases in the U.S. Who knows what effect other STDs would've had on disease progression in those patients?
These men likely had different co-factors than Eazy, such as the use of different recreational drugs & additional diseases like Hepatitis B & bowel diseases which were common in gay men in the early 1980s. It's quite possible those illnesses put a bigger burden on the immune system, as did the re-infection with multiple strains of the HIV virus during high-risk sex in gay bath houses where the virus was endemic in those days. Certain genes can also affect how resistant a person is to the virus, as can the strain of HIV they acquire. Some are more virulent than others. As stated, Eazy was an avid weed smoker which probably kept his appetite up & prevented the wasting seen in many other AIDS patients too.
|December '94: DJ Yella's (center) last picture of Eazy|
All of that is speculative, but one thing is not: Eazy's AIDS is unique to Eazy. Just as you can't compare someone's pancreatic cancer to another person's lymphoma, everyone's HIV infection will progress differently & follow a slightly different path if left untreated. Ironically, Eazy himself made the mistaken claim that all of his sex partners "looked healthy" when asked by Howard Stern if he was scared of catching AIDS, as if you can tell by looking at someone if they're infected. His fans are now making the same exact claim about Eazy when asserting that he couldn't have died from AIDS. If that doesn't scare you, it's time to wake the hell up.
If Eazy were around to hear all the nonsense spouted in his name today, he'd be ashamed. I can't imagine anything more disrespectful to his memory than to totally disregard his final message & make up an alternate ending you find more entertaining. Or maybe it really is thinly-veiled homophobia? It's been said that Eazy never got the respect that 2Pac & Biggie did because he died of AIDS & not murder... Perhaps this is Hollywood & his homies' way of turning an unpalatable death from what they view as a "gay disease" into a more 'gangster' murder plot?
I sure hope not because it does him a grave disservice & puts millions of young lives in danger. This is one conspiracy theory that belongs in the trash alongside QAnon & Pizzagate.
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