One of the most sucsesfull indie record label of all times founded by former drug pusher Eazy E. It housed such rappers as Bone Thugs, the DOC, and was used as a vehicle for realeses by Eazys own group, NWAIn 1995, Eazy-E was diagnosed with AIDS; he had just signed the five-member group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, whose debut 1994 E.P. Creepin on ah Come Up became wildly popular. While he executive-produced their first full-length album, E 1999 Eternal, he died of AIDS-related pneumonia before the album's release. Their smash 1995 single "Crossroads" was dedicated to Wright, and helped push the album to multi-platinum success. After his death, the label was taken over by his wife, Tomica Wright; due to a shift in promotions and marketing, the label's artists began leaving for other recording homes--into 1996, only MC Ren and Bone Thugs remained, and even those acts eventually departed, though re-releases of previous projects have appeared since then. Ruthless Records is now a division of Epic Records.
The label has had several distributors simultaneously. Early Ruthless releases were distributed by Macola Records, but that deal was short lived and the rights reverted to Ruthless. All of N.W.A's releases and Eazy-E's first two solo releases on Ruthless were distributed by Priority Records, and the rights to these releases are now held by Priority's new owner, Capitol Records. Releases by The D.O.C, Michel'le, and JJ Fad were marketed through Atlantic Records or its subsidiary Atco Records. These master rights are still held by Atlantic's parent company, Warner Music Group, while Above The Law's releases were marketed through Epic Records. In the early 1990s, Ruthless found more exclusive distribution through Relativity Records, formerly a heavy metal label. Relativity was later folded into its parent company, Sony Music.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony signed in 1993 when Layzie, Krazyie, Flesh, Wish and Bizzy, broke and hungry, but loaded with talent, confidence and the bravado to try anything to achieve success, boarded a bus to Los Angeles. Their destination was the offices of Ruthless Records, home to the legendary rap group NWA. Bone auditioned over the phone but Eazy didn't get back with them. When Bone heard that Eazy-E was doing a show in their hometown, they scraped their money together and hustled back to Cleveland. They auditioned live for Eazy backstage and he signed them on the spot.