The top 10 West Coast rappers of all time! This year isn’t complete without a thorough look at the best, and most influential rappers out of the West Coast. Groups like N.W.A, 213, and Westside Connection gave California a plethora of rappers to appreciate. Let’s take a look at some of the best rap legends straight out the West Coast.
10. The D.O.C.
The D.O.C., born Tracy Lynn Curry, is often heralded as one of the most underrated lyricists West Coast hip hop. He’s name holds significant weight among the “old heads” of hip hop. As a contributor to the influential group N.W.A. and a contributor to Dr. Dre’s classic album, The Chronic, The D.O.C.’s impact on West Coast hip-hop cannot be overstated. His career came to an abrupt end after a tragic car accident severely damaged his vocal cords. Despite the accident, and being born in Texas, The D.O.C. remains an important figure in the history of West Coast rap.
9. Dr. Dre
One of the founders of N.W.A., arguably the best rap group of all time, Dre is an undisputed West Coast legend. His iconic production skills and music-making speak for themselves in projects like The Chronic, Straight Outta Compton, and 2001. He helped discover and develop many other West and East Coast rap legends. Without Dre, the world may have never known Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, The Game, and many more.
8. Warren G
Rapper and record producer Warren G became well-known in the early 1990s. With his debut album Regulate… G Funk Era, became a significant figure in the West Coast rap. Warren G heavily contributed to the growth of G-funk music. “Regulate” and “This D.J.” were popular songs from the “G Funk Era.” Warren G began his career as a musician after joining up with Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg to establish the group “213.” Together, they put out their first successful single, “Ain’t No Fun.”
Warren G joined Def Jam Recordings after leaving Death Row Records, where he recorded numerous popular albums, including Take A Look Over Your Shoulder, I Want It All, and The Return of the Regulator. Warren G has produced music for artists other than himself, including Tupac Shakur, MC Breed, and The Dove Shack.
Additionally, he has worked with many performers, including Mack 10, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, and Adina Howard. Overall, Warren G’s unique approach and contributions to West Coast hip-hop have cemented his status as one of the genre’s iconic figures.
7. Nate Dogg
Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, popularly known as Nate Dogg, a West Coast rapper, and vocalist, rose to fame for his slick vocals and iconic hooks. Nate Dogg first rose to recognition as a result of his work on The Chronic, the debut album by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Warren G.
His soulful voice gave West Coast rap the distinctive touch it was lacking before he arrived. With songs like “Regulate” featuring Warren G and “Ain’t No Fun” featuring Snoop Dogg, Nate continued to have hits throughout the decade.
Nate released a number of solo albums over the years, along with his work as a featured artist on the songs of other rappers. When he sang about love or heartbreak rather than just rapping about street life, his rich baritone voice made him stand out even more. Nate tragically died at the young age of 41 from complications brought on by several strokes.
However, because so many musicians continue to sample and incorporate his timeless hooks into their own songs, his legacy continues to be recognized among modern rappers and singers alike.
6. Nipsey Hussle
Rapper, businessman, and community activist Nipsey Hussle had a profound effect on the music business as well as other fields. Nip grew up surrounded by gang culture in LA but eventually found a way of expressing himself through music. Early in the 2010s, the success of his mixtapes led to his signing with Atlantic Records. However, Nipsey’s influence went far beyond music.
He was committed to making his town better through a variety of programs, including investing in local businesses and providing former inmates with employment opportunities.
He even started a co-working facility called Vector90 with the objective of bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and inner-city youth. Nipsey Hussle’s life ended tragically short in March 2019 when he was shot outside of The Marathon Clothing store.
However, his charitable work and ongoing impact on the hip-hop industry ensure that his legacy lives on. In fact, within a few weeks of Nipsey’s passing, fans streamed more than two billion minutes of his music. In addition to his gifted artistic ability, Nipsey always made use of his platform to improve his neighborhood.
Eazy-E was a prolific yet underappreciated icon in the early stages of rap. He was a hustler turned West Coast legend, garnering a lot of money and respect from the streets before giving the music a try. In the late 1980s, Eazy used his resources to invest in what would later become one of the most iconic rap groups. N.W.A. consisted of hip-hop legends Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and Yella.
Eazy was one of the first rappers to be respected in the streets and chased by women. Despite being one of rap’s first sex symbols, Eazy managed to mix business with pleasure as he became a hip-hop mogul before dying of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1995.
4. Ice Cube
One of the legends of the West Coast, Ice Cube, was a dangerously smart rapper. He wasn’t necessarily dangerous in the physical sense; he was a major threat because of his intellect. He was one of the smartest West Coast rappers ever, with an acute sense of when to “keep it G,” and when to be business savvy. His music spoke for itself, developing a loyal fanbase that grew larger with every subsequent album.
However, when the music wasn’t enough to garner the respect he deserved, Cube wasn’t afraid to take matters into his own hands. After Ice Cube left N.W.A., he released solo albums. His debut solo project, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, shattered expectations and became a staple of 90s rap. When the label executives didn’t pay Ice Cube the money they promised him for the album, Cube proceeded to take a bat into their offices and destroy everything! Unlike some rappers, Cube’s impact isn’t just in his music.
3. Snoop Dogg
Of all the West Coast rappers, Snoop Dogg is easily one of the best artists of all time. Despite being released in 1993, Snoop Dogg style is still arguably the hottest debut rap album ever. Snoop Dogg’s signature West Coast sound was cemented with tough lyrics about the streets as well as getting women in his fly suits and permed hair. He is also one of the most versatile rappers from the 90s. Before Snoop, there were no West Coast rap legends making experimental songs like “Sensual Seduction.”
2. Tupac Shakur
Despite his short rap career, Tupac Shakur had a legendary run. He had an interesting start as a backup dancer for Digital Underground. He then made history with Dr. Dre in the mid-90s. Tupac and Dr. Dre teamed up after Dre had a falling out with N.W.A., making legendary hits like “California Love.” Pac left a lasting impact with his music about the “thug life” and the struggles of being a young black man in America.
2Pac, is easily one of the most influential and revered rappers in the West and East Coasts. Throughout his career, 2Pac released numerous classic albums, including Me Against the World, All Eyez on Me, and the posthumous The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. His music often dealt with themes of violence, racism, and social issues, making him a true revolutionary in the genre. Tragically, Pac’s life ended unexpectedly in 1996 after a drive-by shooting. Despite his untimely death, his music and impact on the West Coast will never go away.
1. Kendrick Lamar
One of the most noteworthy and creative rappers of our time. Kendrick Lamar is one of the newest West Coast legends. His experimental style and socially conscious lyrics can’t go overlooked or overestimated. Lamar launched his career in 2004 using the stage name K-Dot after being born and raised in Compton, California. Following the success of his mixtapes, Lamar’s debut studio album, Section.80, was widely praised when it was released in 2011. After that, he released Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City in 2012.
His third hit project in a row brought him widespread success and established him as a significant West Coast figure. Lamar further cemented his reputation as a rapper who isn’t afraid to address difficult topics through his music. He often talks about race relations, poverty, and mental health, in classic albums like To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN. Lamar is a brilliant songwriter and producer on top of his work as a rapper. It is impossible to overestimate his influence on hip-hop culture. He keeps inspiring new waves of artists while preserving his own distinctive voice and vision.