Without Jerry Heller, N.W.A. would not have made their meteoric rise to dominance, said the group’s former publicist.
“Jerry took the risk taking a mortgage out on his home to finance NWA’s first tour,” publicist/journalist Phyllis Pollack told AllHipHop exclusively her longtime friend. Pollack served as the publicist for Ruthless Records. “Jerry loved Eazy like a son. Jerry’s involvement on various levels let to the release Straight Outta Compton, arguable the most important album the 20th Century. And the lyrics remain relevant today with the Black Lives Matter movement and the other topics on the album.”
Heller died yesterday at the age 75.
Heller helped Eazy-E turn Ruthless Records into one the most successful, pritable and influential record labels ever. Pollack said Heller and Eazy-E were unable to secure a deal for the music the artists were created, loosely called gangster rap or reality rap.
“Jerry’s devotion to Eric would not let him give up helping Eric pursue his dream, despite the album [Straight Outta Compton] being turned down by every major label,” she said.
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A polarizing figure sorts, Pollack said that Heller was underappreciated even though his impact can be felt all over Hip-Hop to this day.
“After Eric died, I think Jerry died a broken heart. All us owe Jerry a bit gratitude, said Pollack. “Had there been no Ruthless, there would have never been a Death Row, a Snoop Dogg, MC Eiht ( seminal rap group Compton’s Most Wanted) or Kendrick Lamar.”
Misinformation has plagued Jerry Heller’s legacy, Pollack said. For example, he was not a co-owner Ruthless Records and worked for Eazy-E. The movie “Straight Outta Compton” contributed to the notion that Heller was the reason for the dismantling N.W.A., but Pollack told AllHipHop that the movie is largely a creative product Hollywood.
She said, “Despite the fictionalized storyline the movie about the group (N.W.A.), Ruthless was the first Black owned Hip-Hop label to have gold and platinum releases.”
According to reports, Jerry Heller died as a result a heart attack, which lead to a car accident.