Eazy-E seaside memorial bench in Newhaven unveiled

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(L-R) Rappers MC Ren, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre of the rap group NWA pose for a portrait in 1991 in New YorkImage copyright
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(L-R) Rappers MC Ren, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and Dr Dre were in the rap group NWA

A British seaside town has unveiled a memorial bench honouring “Godfather of Gangsta Rap” Eazy-E – despite the two having no connection whatsoever.

Hip hop fan Guy Stevens suggested the seat be installed near the bandstand in Newhaven, East Sussex, as a joke.

But his campaign attracted enough donations for him to realise his dream of a permanent tribute to the US rapper from Compton, California.

Newhaven Town Council admitted they had never heard of the musician.

Eazy-E, real name Eric Wright, was a former drug dealer and founding member of NWA, who released influential album Straight Outta Compton in 1988.

The record was a huge hit which tackled the hostile, underprivileged side of American life.

‘2Pac bench’

Mr Stevens said it was “hilarious” that the artist had been honoured in a town almost 5,500 miles (8,800km) away where only a handful of people knew his music.

He had first asked for a statue to sit alongside Newhaven’s sculpture of communist leader Ho Chi Minh, who is said to have worked on cross-channel ferries docked there.

But he later admitted that request had been “tongue-in-cheek”, according to the council, and downgraded his request to a bench.

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The plaque reads: “Rest in peace Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright 1964-1995”

Mr Stevens said the success of the campaign, which donors predicted would put Newhaven “on the world stage”, was flattering.

He suggested others might follow his lead and pay tribute to other deceased hip hop “legends”.

“I’d like to see more benches dedicated to 2Pac and Biggie in neighbouring towns or even here in Newhaven,” he said.

“Or even rename Newhaven Newcompton.”

So popular was Mr Steven’s campaign that he actually raised more than £1,600 ($2,024) in his bid to fund the £1,177 ($1,489) bench.

In a further tribute to Eazy-E, who died of Aids in 1995, the extra cash was donated to two Brighton HIV charities, the Sussex Beacon and Terrence Higgins Trust.

‘We don’t ask questions’

Mayor of Newhaven Graham Amy said Mr Stevens’s request left councillors “a little surprised”, as there was no obvious connection to the town.

“Eazy-E appears to have led a rather colourful life,” he said.

“But if someone contacts us wanting to buy a memorial bench to their aunt, say, we don’t ask questions about her lifestyle.

“Indeed, Eazy-E is greatly admired in some quarters.”

The mayor added: “I’d never heard of gangsta rap. The Beatles were more my thing.”

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