The ten greatest West Coast rappers of all time

Page 3 of 4

7. E-40 E-40 began his rap career as one fourth of a family operation, the Click, with his brother, sister and cousin, but the vast majority of his output has come as a solo operator. His distinctive style, which sounds like he's trying to jam as many syllables as possible into a bar, almost as if he's in fast-forward, makes his music instantly recognizable. He's one of the earliest practitioners of the Bay Area's hyphy movement, along with Mac Dre, and is arguably the most recognizable and successful. The fact that nearly every one of 40's seventeen (count 'em) albums has been top twenty on rap/R&B charts speaks to his commercial viability and consistency. And that he shows no signs of slowing or losing his audience well into his forties is a testament to his absolute credibility.

6. DJ Quik Quik is one of the most well-respected cats to come out of California, having produced for 2Pac, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg, Eazy-E and, most significantly, himself. He's also an adept rhymer whose albums have fared well critically and commercially, at least during his heyday throughout the '90s. He may not have the career-defining singles that other artists are famous for, but he's written and self-produced three gold albums, as well as the platinum Quik is the Name. Though Quik has been forgotten by the mainstream hip-hop audience, his impact on West Coast rap is clear and unquestionable.

5. Ice-T Though N.W.A. captured the nation with its fierce and exciting brand of gangsta rap, it is Ice-T, along with Schoolly D, who is frequently credited with creating it. For Ice-T, it was the track "6 in the Mornin'," released in 1986, that marked his foray into the genre. The song was actually a B-side to "Dog'n the Wax," but due to it's popularity in clubs, Ice-T realized the lucrative potential of rapping about Los Angeles gangster life. In 1991, Ice-T released O.G. Original Gangster, which, despite its relatively primitive stylings, is considered a seminal album in gangsta rap. Ice-T is also co-founder of the group Body Count, one of the earliest fusions of gangsta rap and hard rock, whose "Cop Killer" single sparked a political outcry and moral panic that eventually resulted in the song's removal from subsequent album pressings with the exception of 2005's Body Count: Live in LA.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Noah Hubbell