In the summer of 1988, controversial rap group N.W.A released their debut LP Straight Outta Compton. The now-classic album not only introduced West Coast legends Dr. Dre and Ice Cube to the world, but also established the gangsta-rap subgenre of hip hop that forever shaped the national image of rap music. Without the foresight and business acumen of frontman Eazy-E, who founded Ruthless Records, N.W.A.'s initial label home, none of the group's members would've ever had the platform to revolutionize the genre in the ways that they did. But Eazy's impact on the game extends even further than that. Today, March 26, 2012, the 17th anniversary of his tragic death due to AIDS, BET.com remembers Eazy-E's many contributions to hip hop and beyond.
(Photo: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)