LOS ANGELES, March 16 -- Rapper Eazy E, best known as a member of the pioneering and controversial 'gangsta rap' group N.W.A., was hospitalized in critical but stable condition with what his publicist described Thursday as full-blown AIDS. The 31-year-old rapper, whose real name is Eric Wright, said in a statement that he wanted to disclose his condition to dispel rumors and to let his young fans know 'what's real when it comes to AIDS.'
Wright was admitted to the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Feb. 24. Wright had been sick for some time but believed he was suffering from asthma, which runs in his family, publicist Norman Winter said. A native of Compton, Calif., Wright founded N.W.A. with future rap stars Ice Cube and Dr. Dre in the mid-1980s. N.W.A.'s musical blend of funk and hard rock had a profound impact on rap music, although the group's violent and sexually explicit lyrics were widely condemned even within the music industry. After N.W.A. disbanded in 1991, Wright founded Ruthless Records and embarked on a solo career. Ruthless's roster also includes the hit rap groups Above the Law and Bone Thugs 'N Harmony. In his statement, Wright said he hoped others would learn from his suffering. 'I would like to turn my own problem into something good that will reach out to all my homeboys and their kin because I want to save their asses before it's too late,' he said. Wright, who has seven young children, was recently married to his longtime girlfriend Tomika, Winter said.