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We all know that hip-hop was created on the East Coast. But, the West Coast created and identified its own style of rap and popularized it in the 1980s. The West Coast continued to push hip-hop culture. Its roots are honored in style and music. N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Ice-T, Too $Hort, E40, Kendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle, Tupac, and more have made large contributions to hip-hop in general as well as honoring their West Coast home cities.
Origins of West Coast Hip-Hop
Ice-T, who is originally from New Jersey, is one of the originators of West Coast rap. He moved to Los Angeles after his parents died before he was 14 years old. Before he got his big break, the rapper started as a DJ. Many of his songs were played in underground clubs. He released his debut album Rhyme Pays in 1987. The same year he signed to Sire Records.
In addition to hip-hop, he also co-founded the metal band Body Count. His songs he did not shy away from political topics in his music even if they caused controversy. In West Coast rap, especially during the time that Ice-T emerged in the music industry, police brutality was an everyday occurrence that affected the lives of Black people in minority communities in which many rappers were from. One of his songs was called “Cop Killer.” The song is by his metal band which was released in 1992. The record is on their self-titled album Body Count.
Before Ice-T’s song with Body Count, N.W.A. also touched upon the relationship between Black California residents. One of their songs that caused a lot of backlash was “F— Da Police.” A biopic of the group, which consisted of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and MC Ren, titled Straight Outta Compton was released in 2015.
Another adoptee of the style, and arguably one of the best rappers in hip-hop history, is Tupac Shakur. While Tupac was born on the East Coast, his influence undoubtedly contributed to West Coast-style rap. Tupac also spoke a lot about the adversaries that Black people faced through his music just like in one of his hits “Changes.”
West Coast Sound Now
While those rappers touched upon topics that showcased what went on (and continues to go on in the present day) they also used their music to uplift and create a fun vibe for listeners. Songs such as “California Love,” by Tupac, “Drop It Like Its Hot,” by Snoop Dogg, and modern artists such as Tyga’s “Taste” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools.”
Take a look at some must-have items that symbolize West Coast style hip-hop below: