The ten greatest West Coast rappers of all time
West Coast rap is sometimes disparaged by hip-hop purists for it's perceived lack of lyricism and substance, but what it lacks in lyrical acrobatics and "message," it more than makes up for in personality. Whether the aesthetic is raw and violent or chill and relaxed, the sentiment comes through just as powerfully. Continue on for a rundown of the ten greatest West Coast rappers of all time.
Though he is best known for his work with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, Kurupt is a more well-rounded MC than his guest verses would suggest. While the Dogg Pound albums are about "not giving a fuck, bangin' out, making some good gangsta music," his solo ventures are more "wordly...all across the board." Indeed, as a solo artist and with groups, Kurupt has been one of the most consistent rappers on the West Coast, releasing music as recently as 2011.
9. Ras Kass
Not the most listenable MC to pick up a microphone, Ras Kass is certainly one of the most intelligent and unique, especially in the mid '90s, when gangsta rap was in full swing and the scene was largely homogenized. When his landmark debut, Soul On Ice failed to sell like expected -- despite being praised by many for its dense, detail-oriented lyricism -- because of allegations of racism and factually inaccuracy on the ambitious track, "Nature of the Threat," along with poor production compared to Ras's top-notch rhymes, the MC enlisted Dr. Dre to produce his next album's lead single, "Ghetto Fabulous," and opted for a less controversial tone. Ras continued to release sophisticated material after that, albeit infrequently, but for hardcore fans, it doesn't get better than his 1996 debut.
8. Cypress Hill
Headed by B-Real, this California group is known best for their ardent love of weed with songs like "Legalize It," "Hits from the Bong" and "Dr. Greenthumb." It's the darker, more serious side of Cypress Hill, however, that earns them respect as one the West Coast's greatest acts. The group's self titled debut went double platinum thanks to singles like the calloused "How I Could Just Kill a Man" and "Latin Lingo," which showcased the MCs' competence in bilingual rhyming with verses that seamlessly transition between English and Spanish. The groups followup, Black Sunday was even more successful, featuring "Insane in the Brain," which appealed to both rock and rap fans and seemed to be playing everywhere in the '90s, as well as "I Ain't Goin' out Like That," which was nominated for a Grammy. A later single, "Rock Superstar," cemented the outfit's status as a crossover act, landing it on tours with the likes of MxPx and the Offspring.