West Coast hip hop

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West Coast hip hop is a hip hop music subgenre that encompasses any artists or music that originate in the West Coast region of North America, specifically California. The gangsta rap subgenre of West Coast hip hop began to dominate from a radio play and sales standpoint during the early 1990s with the birth of G-funk and the emergence of Suge Knight and Dr. Dre's Death Row Records.


Early years[edit]

It is known that the five elements of hip-hop culture, B-boying, beatboxing, DJing, graffiti art, and MCing, existed on the East and West Coasts of the United States simultaneously during the mid-seventies.[1] Although it is agreed that hip hop was given its name in New York, some say a culture that closely mirrored the East Coast hip-hop culture also emerged in the West, existing from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area during the same period.[1]

A number of events laid the foundations for West Coast hip hop, long before the emergence of West Coast rappers such as the Rappers Rapp Group & DJ Flash, 2Pac, Eazy E, Ice T, and Too Short. According to geniusrap.com,[2] "a cataclysmic event helped give rise to it out West: the Watts Riots of 1965." In 1967, Bud Schulberg founded a creative space entitled Watts Writers Workshop, intended to help the people of the Watts neighborhood and provide a place for them to express themselves freely. Out of this background the Watts Prophets formed, its members having moved to the West Coast from southern states such as Texas and Louisiana. Inspired by the New York group The Last Poets, they released their debut album, The Black Voices: On the Streets in Watts, in 1969 and became forerunners of West Coast rap.

The West Coast hip-hop scene started in earnest in 1978 with the founding of Unique Entertainment, a group influenced by Prince, East Coast hip hop, Kraftwerk, Parliament-Funkadelic and others.[citation needed] By 1980, the group were known[who?] as the best party promoters in Los Angeles.[citation needed] In 1983 its leader Roger Clayton, influenced by the Funkadelic album Uncle Jam Wants You changed the group's name to Uncle Jamm's Army. In 1984, Uncle Jamm's Army released their first single, "Dial-a-Freak", and in the same year Egyptian Lover released his On the Nile album, which included the popular 12" single "Egypt Egypt".

Another early landmark occurred in 1981, when Duffy Hooks III launched the first West Coast rap label, Rappers Rapp Records, inspired by Sugar Hill Records in New York. Its first act was the duo of Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp, whose 1981 debut single was "Gigolo Rapp" bw "Gigolo Groove". The labels second act was The Rappers Rapp Group a six-member group that included DJ Flash, King MC, MC Fosty and Lovin C who's infectious 1984 hit single Radio Activity Rapp packed the dance floors for L.A. to the Bay. also in 1983, Captain Rapp created the classic West Coast song "Bad Times (I Can't Stand It)".[citation needed]

In the mid-1980s, Mixmaster Spade defined an early form of gangsta rap with his Compton Posse.[citation needed] From this group, Spade mentored future rap stars of the West Coast, including Toddy Tee, who recorded the South Central LA anthem "The Batteram" in 1985.

In the same period, the Compton-based former locking dancer Alonzo Williams formed World Class Wreckin' Cru, which included future N.W.A members Dr. Dre and DJ Yella. Williams also founded Kru-Cut Records and established a recording studio in the back of his nightclub, Eve's After Dark. The club was where local drug dealer Eazy-E and Jerry Heller decided to start Ruthless Records and where Dr. Dre and DJ Yella met the group CIA, which included future N.W.A member and Ice Cube, Laylaw, Dr. Dre's cousin Sir Jinx, and K-Dee. Dr. Dre along with Eazy E and NWA made an impact on Rap and how its portrayed by people forever. They have forever changed the rap game, and what it stands for. They stood up against racism and created riots in the streets of L.A. They were one of the first rap groups to give off such a different atmosphere and excel in their specific music industry. They had the theme of "Not caring" and doing what they wanted. Eventually the group split up and went separate ways but will always be remembered for what they accomplished.

During this period, one of the greatest factors in the spread of West Coast hip hop was the radio station 1580 KDAY and DJ Greg "Mack Attack" Mack.[citation needed][dubious ]


Late 1980s and 1990s[edit]

Dr. Dre, producer, solo artist and former member of N.W.A

In 1988, N.W.A's landmark album Straight Outta Compton was released.[4] Focusing on life and adversities in Compton, California, a notoriously rough area which had gained a reputation for gang violence, it was released by group member Eazy-E's record label Ruthless Records. As well as establishing a basis for the popularity of gangsta rap, the album drew much attention to West Coast hip hop, especially the Los Angeles scene. In particular, the controversial "Fuck tha Police" and the ensuing censorship attracted substantial media coverage and public attention.

Following the dissolution of N.W.A due to in-fighting, the group's members - in particular Dr. Dre and Ice Cube - went on to have highly successful careers. Ice Cube released some of the West Coast's most critically acclaimed albums, such as 1990's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and 1991's Death Certificate, as well as making film and television appearances such as in John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood in 1991.

The early 1990s was a period in which hip hop went from strength to strength. Tupac Shakur's debut album 2Pacalypse Now was released in 1991, demonstrating a social awareness, with attacks on social injustice, poverty and police brutality. Shakur's music and philosophy was rooted in various philosophies and approaches, including the Black Panther Party, Black nationalism, egalitarianism, and liberty. Also in 1991, Suge Knight founded Death Row Records using money he had extorted from the pop-rapper Vanilla Ice - the West Coast saw the debut of arguably its most influential and popular rapper. In 1992, Dr. Dre released his solo debut, The Chronic; this marked the birth of the G-funk sound that became a hallmark of the West Coast sound in the 1990s, with the album's lead single "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" peaking at Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other Death Row releases such as Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle (1993), Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Food (1995) and 2Pac's All Eyez on Me (1996) became huge sellers and were also critically acclaimed.

The popularity of hip hop was undoubtedly assisted by the ensuing feud between Death Row Records and the East Coast's Bad Boy Records, fronted by Puff Daddy and The Notorious B.I.G.. The East-West feud gained particular traction when Shakur was shot on November 30, 1994 outside Quad Recording Studios in New York, coincidentally, this was where Biggie Smalls and Puff Daddy had been recording that day, which led Shakur to accuse them of setting him up. Tensions were at their highest at the Source Awards in 1995, with artists from both sides making indirect comments about the others. In February 1995, Eazy-E would announce he was diagnosed with AIDS, and would die a little over a month later after making amends with his former N.W.A group members.

The drive-by shooting murder of Shakur on September 13, 1996 was a major turning point for hip-hop as a whole. Shakur had been the West Coast's most popular rapper and amongst the most critically acclaimed. After his death and Suge Knight's incarceration, Death Row Records - once home to the majority of the West Coast's mainstream rappers - fell into obscurity. The death of the East Coast rapper and former Tupac adversary, The Notorious B.I.G., concluded the West-East feud that had riddled hip hop throughout the 1990s. The West Coast scene slowly started to fade from the mainstream in the early 2000s, as fans drifted more towards the East Coast scene, with new artists such as 50 Cent coming to the fore alongside veterans such as Nas and the Wu-Tang Clan. In addition, Southern hip hop reached the mainstream in the early 2000s and, arguably, Atlanta's rap scene became the most popular in the country with the rise of crunk in 2003-2004.

Resurgence (2005 - Present)[edit]

The Game released his first mixtape You Know What It Is Vol. 1 in 2002, and landed a record deal with the independent label Get Low Recordz owned by JT the Bigga Figga. The Game's mixtape reached the hands of Sean Combs, founder of Bad Boy Records, who originally was on the verge of signing him to his label. Five months later, he was discovered by Dr. Dre who listened to the mixtape and signed him to his Aftermath Entertainment label in 2003. In 2005 The Game released The Documentary which débuted at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 and would go on to sell 5 million copies marking first success of a new West coast hip-hop artist in almost 10 years. The Game would open doors for new talent like Nipsey Hussle, Glasses Malone, Casey Veggies, Dom Kennedy, Skeme, Vince Staples and Joe Moses. Veterans like Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, DJ Quik, Too $hort and E-40 still maintain a presence whether through music, media and film.

Top Dawg Entertainment[edit]

In 1997, Anthony Tiffith began managing producers, who had produced for rappers such as The Game and Juvenile, among others. In 2003, Tiffith found a then 15-year-old Kendrick Lamar, a Compton native, who at the time went by K-Dot and had just released his first mixtape, which gained recognition and earned the young rapper a buzz in his local area. Tiffith saw so much potential in Lamar, he signed him off the strength of his first mixtape.[5] It wasn't until 2005 that TDE started to gain success with another California-based rapper, Watts' own Jay Rock. Following Rock's signing, TDE signed joint venture deals with Warner Bros. and later Asylum Records. However, following the merger, TDE began planning an exit strategy after the labels failed to handle Rock's debut Follow Me Home properly.[6]

In 2007, Carson-based rapper Ab-Soul was added to the Top Dawg roster.[7] On May 10, 2008 the label released a compilation mixtape titled Do It Nigga Squad, Volume 1, which features songs by members of the label's roster, with other appearances coming from fellow American rappers Schoolboy Q, Lil Wayne and will.i.am.[8] All songs on the mixtape were mixed by Top Dawg's resident engineer Derek "MixedByAli" Ali, much like a majority of their releases are.[8] In October 2008, Jay Rock released his commercial debut single "All My Life (In the Ghetto)," which was included as the last track on the aforementioned mixtape and features Lil Wayne and will.i.am. In 2009, Los Angeles-based rapper Schoolboy Q signed with TDE after being affiliated with the label since 2006. In 2009, once they were all signed to the label, Schoolboy Q suggested that he, Lamar, Rock and Ab-Soul form a rap group. They all agreed and all four artists formed the hip hop group Black Hippy.[9][10] Kendrick Lamar was the first to release his major label debut, with good kid, m.A.A.d city hitting stores on October 22, 2012. The album was highly acclaimed and went on to become certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Schoolboy Q subsequently began recording his major label debut Oxymoron, which was released February 25, 2014.

On March 15, 2015, TDE released Kendrick Lamar's fourth retail release, To Pimp a Butterfly. In its first week of release, To Pimp a Butterfly debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 324,000 copies in the United States.[11] Later in the year, To Pimp a Butterfly received two nominations at the 58th Grammy Awards: Album of the Year and Best Rap Album; while the song "Alright" was nominated for Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, its visuals for Best Music Video, and "These Walls" received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.[12] Previously, the lead single "i" won Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance at the 2015 ceremony.[13]

Pushaz Ink/10 Summers[edit]

When DJ Mustard was 11 years old, his uncle, a DJ, let him DJ at a family party. He acquired his DJ name from the condiment dijon mustard because his first name is also Dijon. Mustard began DJing more as he got older, and became much more skilled at it. DJ Mustard then very often DJed in clubs. He uses the music production software Reason, first using 5, 6 and currently using 6.5. "With this ratchet music I'm trying to create my own sound. I want to make this to where it can't leave, this is something that everybody's gonna get used to. Like how everybody got used to Lil Jon or Luke. I don't want it to be something that comes and goes, I want it to be something that's here forever like a real culture," Mustard said.[14]

DJ Mustard described his business relationship with West coast rapper YG. Since YG's second mixtape The Real 4Fingaz,[15] he has produced on all of his mixtapes. "I started making beats for YG; he was one the first people to do my beats. I started with him, so for us to do a mixtape was easy. We created this dancing sound. I feel like we owed it to the streets and we're not stopping."[16] DJ Mustard has produced singles by YG such as "Bitches Ain't Shit" featuring rappers Tyga and Nipsey Hussle, and "You Broke" also featuring Nipsey Hussle.

During 2010, DJ Mustard released an unofficial compilation album with various artists through the label Thump Records that was called "Let's Jerk" named after the street dance called jerking in Los Angeles.[17]

During late 2011, DJ Mustard produced Tyga's third single "Rack City" from his second album Careless World: Rise of the Last King. The song was released in December 2011, and peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and #2 on the Hot Rap Songs chart.[18] It was also certified 2x platinum by the RIAA.[19] According to Mustard, the beat for the song was originally for YG. YG told Mustard that Tyga needed a beat, so he sent the beat to Tyga.[16] DJ Mustard's career was given a huge blast from the song. He also produced two tracks from Tyga's mixtape Well Done 3, the third installment of his Well Done series and his song "Hit Em Up" featuring rapper Jadakiss from his third album Hotel California, released on April 9, 2013.

During 2012, DJ Mustard produced Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz's song "I'm Different" that was released as the third single from his major debut album Based on a T.R.U. Story on November 8. The song charted at #6 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart[20] and was certified gold by the RIAA, selling over 500,000 copies digitally.[21] Also later in 2012, DJ Mustard produced the song R.I.P. by Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy that was released as the lead single from his twelfth mixtape It's Tha World on February 5, 2013. The song features 2 Chainz, making this the second time he has rapped over Mustard's beats since "I'm Different". The song charted at #17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[22] Mustard has also produced tracks on rapper Bow Wow's seventh album Underrated such as "We In Da Club" which was released as the second single from that album. However, as stated by Bow Wow in 2012, the album has been indefinitely been delayed and he is no longer focusing on it.[14][23]

On June 3, 2013 DJ Mustard released his official debut mixtape Ketchup. The mixtape contained guest appearances from artists such as Lil Snupe, YG, Ty$, Joe Moses, Kid Ink, Nipsey Hussle, Casey Veggies, Ca$h Out, Clyde Carson, Dorrough, Dom Kennedy, and Lil Jon.[24] Later in June, Mustard produced Atlanta rapper B.o.B's song HeadBand featuring 2 Chainz, which was released as the second single from his third studio album Underground Luxury. The song has charted at #21 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[25] On September 17, DJ Mustard produced West coast rapper Kid Ink's song "Show Me" featuring Chris Brown, released as the first single from his upcoming second studio album My Own Lane. The single peaked at #1 on the U.S. Rhythmic Billboard Chart. On September 17, 2013, DJ Mustard produced YG's mega-anthem "My Nigga" for his debut studio album "My Krazy Life", which peaked at #5 on the U.S. Rhythmic Billboard chart. On November 18, 2013, DJ Mustard announced that he had signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation as an artist, and revealed plans to release his own studio album.[26] On December 18, 2013, he was named the runner-up for producer of the year by HipHopDX.[27] On March 11, 2014, DJ Mustard produced Kid Ink's "Main Chick" also featuring Chris Brown for his second studio album "My Own Lane". It peaked at #3 on the U.S. Rhythmic Billboard chart.

In 2009, YG released his debut single, "Toot It and Boot It", featuring Ty Dolla Sign, which peaked at number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100.[28] The single's success resulted in him signing to Def Jam Recordings.[29] In the following years, YG released mixtapes such as The Real 4Fingaz and Just Re'd Up 2 among others.

In June 2013, YG signed to Young Jeezy's CTE World. His 2013 single "My Nigga" featuring Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan has peaked at number 19 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming the highest charting song of his career. He then released the singles "Left, Right" and "Who Do You Love?" featuring Drake leading up to the release of his debut studio album. His debut album, My Krazy Life was released on March 18, 2014, by Pu$haz Ink, CTE World and Def Jam received critical acclaim.

Ty Dolla Sign began his music career by learning how to play the bass guitar. Since then, he also learned to play drums, guitar, keyboards and the MPC.[30] Later, he and his partner Kory, signed a record deal with Venus Brown and Buddah Brown Ent, and released a mixtape, titled Raw & Bangin Mixtape Vol 2. The duo also made guest appearances on albums by other artists such as Sa-Ra Creative Partners and Black Milk, where they sang on the song "U" on the latter's 2007 recording Popular Demand.[31] However, that deal began to fall through, causing Dolla Sign and Kory to call it quits with each other.

After the dispute, Dolla Sign would collaborate with YG, a fellow rapper from Los Angeles.[32] Dolla Sign's initial claim to fame was through the success of YG's single "Toot It and Boot It",[33] a song he both wrote and produced with YG.[34] He then became affiliated with YG's group Pu$haz Ink. During 2011, Dolla Sign released his first song, "All Star", featuring Joe Moses, with production by Fuego. Ty Dolla Sign then released "My Cabana", featuring Young Jeezy, which was ranked on Complex's Best 50 Songs of 2012 list at number 23.[35]

2012–14: Beach House series[edit]

Ty Dolla Sign in November 2013.

In 2012, Ty Dolla Sign signed a deal to Atlantic Records.[36] After signing a deal, he then released his first mixtape, titled Beach House on October 1, 2012.[37] Following the release of his second mixtape, titled Beach House 2 on July 1, 2013. This project features guest appearances from Too $hort, Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Kirko Bangz, among others.[38] On the following day, it was revealed that he was signed to a deal to Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang Records.[39] During mid-2013, he toured with Khalifa and A$AP Rocky, among others on the name of "Under the Influence of Music 2".[40]

On September 10, 2013, Ty Dolla Sign released a song, titled "Paranoid" featuring B.o.B, with the production handled by DJ Mustard. The song was later announced to be his first single, that would be featured on his new EP. The song would eventually be certified Platinum two years later.[41] On October 22, 2013, the Ethan Lader-directed music video for "Paranoid", premiered via Diddy's Revolt.[42][43] The single became highly popular, also the song peaked at number 79 on the US Billboard Hot 100 for the week of January 4, 2014.

On January 7, 2014, Ty Dolla Sign released his second single for the EP, titled "Or Nah" featuring Wiz Khalifa and DJ Mustard.[44] Additionally the song's production was handled also by DJ Mustard and it contains a sample of Trillville's "Some Cut".[45][46] The music video was shot and filmed, during January 2014.[47]

On January 21, 2014, Ty Dolla Sign released his debut extended play, Beach House EP. The EP features guest appearances from Casey Veggies, Wiz Khalifa, Twista, Jay Rock, Trey Songz, French Montana, Travi$ Scott and Fredo Santana, while the production was primarily handled by Ty Dolla Sign himself, along with DJ Mustard,[48][49] Cardo and Young Chop, among others. He stated that the EP would feature a new sound from him, and that it would be on a whole other level compared to his other mixtapes.[49] Ty Dolla Sign described the EP as being a preview for his debut album, at the time due to be released later during 2014.[50] The remix to "Paranoid" featuring Trey Songz, French Montana and DJ Mustard, is featured on the EP.[51]

2014–present: Free TC[edit]

On February 23, 2014, Ty Dolla Sign revealed that his debut album would be titled Free TC, and would be released during the third quarter of 2014. He told Revolt, that he had already completed 8 songs for the album, and that he would be going on the tour, named Under the Influence 3 with Wiz Khalifa during 2014.[52] He was chosen for the 2014's XXL freshman class.[53] In May 2014, Ty Dolla Sign told The Fader, that he would release a mixtape, $ign Language sometime during the next few months, which would then be followed by Free TC.[54] In August 2014, Dolla $ign revealed that Jeremih, Wiz Khalifa, YG, Yo Gotti and Jay 305 will be appearing on Sign Language.[55] On August 24, 2014, which happens to be the same day, as he released his mixtape Sign Language, Ty Dolla Sign told HotNewHipHop, that he has worked with Rihanna on a track from her upcoming album.[56]

In 2013, RJ released his debut mixtape O.M.M.I.O (which stands for On My Mama I'm On). The mixtape was hosted and largely produced by DJ Mustard. The first song from this mixtape, "Ride Wit Me" was included and released, as the single. RJ then appeared on the songs; Thank God (Interlude) and When I Was Gone from YG's debut album, My Krazy Life (2014).[57] In July 2014, RJ released his second mixtape, Takin Niggas Beats (on a contrary to his first mixtape). The beats on this mixtape were solely from a made up beats from the other rappers that were remixed by RJ. On the same year, DJ Mustard released his debut album 10 Summers, where RJ appeared on these tracks; including Low Low, Throw Your Hood Up and No Reason.[58] At the beginning of 2015, RJ collaborated with Choice to released a critically acclaimed mixtape, Rich Off Mackin. Additionally, RJ appeared on the DJ Mustard's mixtape, titled Ketchup, as well as one of YG's mixtapes Just Re'd Up 2.[59][60] On May 26, 2015, RJ released a mixtape, "O.M.M.I.O. 2", as the sequel to his debut mixtape "O.M.M.I.O". The song "Get Rich" was included and released, as the single. Both of these singles; his 2013's single, "Ride Wit Me" and his 2015's single, "Get Rich", did not chart, both songs received radio airplay throughout the West Coast. He also contributed to the soundtrack for the NBA 2K16's video game by being featured in the original song "You Don't Want It" with frequent collaborator and 10 Summers Records head DJ Mustard.

Alternative and underground scene[edit]

In the early 1990s, many of Los Angeles' alternative and underground MCs[who?][clarification needed] attended the Good Life Cafe to hone their skills and develop their craft.[61] Artists such as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Abstract Rude, Spinz, Ahmad, Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic 5, the Pharcyde, and Skee-Lo performed at the Good Life's open mic Thursday nights from the late 80s through the mid-90s.[62] In the 2008 documentary This Is the Life, L.A. hip-hop artist and Good Life regular 2Mex likened the Good Life movement to that of the New York punk rock and Seattle music scenes.[61]

See also[edit]


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