Former N.W.A manager Jerry Heller has been chatting with anyone within ear shot this year and Straight Outta Compton was being prepped to run its historic course. The 74-year-old Ruthless Records expressed his disdain for the biopic as celebrated actor Paul Giamatti was cast to portray him in the box office smash and afterwards when Ice Cube revealed he didn’t care want Heller thought of said portrayal.
In a recent sitdown with Smashd, Heller is speaking out and in true elderly gentleman fashion, he doesn’t have a filter for any of his thoughts.
After seeing the film, which exceeded everyone’s expectations by bringing in nearly $200 million in ticket sales, Heller expressed his intentions to potentially to file a lawsuit but as he sat lavishly at his Westlake Village, California community, he’s more focused on clearing up any preconceived notions that he was responsible for the N.W.A’s short-lived run. We asked whether or not he pilfered money from the trendsetting group, if he maintains he was contractually able to do so, if that was such the case.
“You can’t steal in this business,” Heller said. “Either you have a good deal, or you don’t. If you don’t, when you have a hit, you re-negotiate. Everybody signs their contract to N.W.A. They split the net five ways. You can’t penalize Eazy because he owns the company. You can’t penalize Dre because he writes all the music. Now they’re acting like it was nothing. No matter what Cube says, they had a great deal. The average deal those days was somewhere between seven and 12 percent for everybody. They were getting $75,000 each, because I made the deal.”
The now incarcerated Suge Knight also played a huge role in influencing N.W.A events and aside from his usual slander (“The truth was, I should have let Eazy kill him”) he made a bold accusation by stating that the ex-Death Row Records lord had Tupac Shakur sent up for his untimely murder in 1996.
The conversation with Smashd shifted its focus to the strained relationship between Heller and Cube, which was a key focal point for Straight Outta Compton. As Heller recalls, Cube’s decision to go solo ultimately was the group’s undoing.
“I’m not taking this check,” then “Let me have the check, I’m going to send it to my lawyer,” he remembered Cube telling him shortly before he broke to record his classic debut, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. “You can’t have the check until you sign the contract. What am I, a f**king moron? I said ‘Take the contract, show it to Lee Young, sign the contract, have him make your changes.’ He admits to that all the time. He says: ‘Jerry wouldn’t give me my check, he wouldn’t let me have the contract.’ That’s not true. I handed him the contract. And he took it to his lawyer. But he already made his decision to do his solo album. That’s what broke up N.W.A.”
Heller also admitted that he regretted never publicly speaking out over the scathing diss track, “No Vaseline” but proved you’re never too old to send shots.
“I go to every Laker game, every Dodger game, I’ve never seen him once since the day [Cube] left,” he claimed. “And he’s taken a lot of beatings since—in the streets—guys rip off his chain, whatever they want. I would never do business with him again. Those lyrics he wrote: ‘How can you be a ni**a for life crew with a white Jew telling you what to do? I want to shoot that Jew in the temple…’
Photo: SKEE TV