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When people think of Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records, they immediately think of N.W.A., they probably think of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and they might even think of The D.O.C.

But what they probably won’t think of is Home Boys Only, the New York rap group who was the first rap act to be signed to Ruthless. Eazy had tasked Ice Cube and Dr. Dre (with help from DJ Yella and Arabian Prince) to craft a song for the group, the result was “Boyz-n-the-Hood.” But being from the East Coast, H.B.O. didn’t vibe the West Coast record and rejected it.

“Well, I actually wrote “Boyz-n-the-Hood” for a group of his — it wasn’t for him. He had a group called H.B.O. — Home Boys Only,” Cube later told Billboard. “He was just gonna be the manager. So I wrote some songs and he was like, ‘I like the stuff you write, I like what you’re talking about. Write a song for my group.’ So I wrote “Boyz-n-the-Hood” and they turned it down. But [Dr.] Dre convinced Eazy to do it. Eazy just worked hard. He worked hard, hard, and actually became a pretty good rapper.”

“Boyz-n-the-Hood” ended up being featured on the 1987 completion album N.W.A. and the Posse, and then later remixed for Eazy’s debut album Eazy-Duz-It. While Eazy initially didn’t have plans to be an artist, with coaching and guidance from Dre and Cube, the Compton rapper eventually found his voice.

Ice Cube: He got better every time he got in front of the mic. He got better and better and better until he was a bona fide rapper. Because it’s one thing to do it in the studio, but when you can do it on stage, you’re a rapper. He could grab the mic — he wasn’t rapping to a track but the instrumental. He could flow on his songs, for sure. He became a good rapper by the time I left [N.W.A].

Ice Cube Remembers Eazy-E on 20th Anniversary of N.W.A Partner’s Death | Billboard
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