If you've seen the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, you'll know the group's manager Jerry Heller is not portrayed in a very positive light. While Ice Cube and Co eat the grease at hamburger chain Fatburger, Heller dines on lobster for brunch. One scene pictures him witholding a $75,000 cheque from Ice Cube. Others suggest he didn't have the best interests of the entire group at heart. Ultimately, Heller is portrayed as the evil force that drove NWA apart; a shady crook.
Heller and NWA's relationship has always been fraught. In the infamous diss track "No Vaseline", which is also depicted in Straight Outta Compton and was released by Ice Cube after he left the group, it is suggested that the remaining members of NWA are not just enslaved to their white manager, but that they're being "gangbanged" by him, that he's taking "money out [their] ass". The song ends with the line "bend over for the goddamn cracker, no vaseline". It's a great diss track which, understandably, upset Heller - in the film Straight Outta Compton, he accuses it of being anti-semitic. Twenty four years later though, and he's stated that the recent Straight Outta Compton film upset him even more than "No Vaseline".
In an interview with Rolling Stone, in which Heller discusses a recent lawsuit he filed against Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E's widow Tomica Woods-Wright, he states, "I thought 'No Vaseline' was hurtful. But actually, this was more hurtful". Heller claims that "most of [Straight Outta Compton] was inaccurate, or just out-and-out not true". The claims that Ice Cube and Dr Dre weren't paid fairly? "They obviously didn't understand what was going on. I took 20 percent, 'cause I managed the group. If Dre got $75,000, I got $15,000. So $15,000 times five – 'cause there were five members of the group – equals $75,000, which is 20 percent of the money that came in." And what about those lobster brunches? "I have never had a lobster brunch in my life." The only thing the film got right about him? "The scene where I was screaming at the cops."
The piece makes for an interesting read. Heller's already presented his side of the story in his 2006 memoir Ruthless - which he calls "100 percent honest". He now claims, however, that scenes from that book were lifted "without his permission". He is now seeking $110 million in combined compensatory and punitive damages for defamation, copyright infringement, breach of contract and other charges. Read the full interview here.