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. However, throughout the years, we’ve had our very own California natives who remind us that West Coast rap is very much alive and that the sentiment comes through just as powerful as any other region.
With that being said, the month of June has a golden week for West Coast rap as three of its greatest rappers of all time celebrate birthdays. Ice Cube celebrated 47-years-old yesterday (June 15), the late-great Tupac Shakur would of turned 45 today (June 16), and last but not least, Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar will turn 29 tomorrow, June 17. I’ve taken the time to honor and acknowledge these pioneers during their birthday week.
As a former N.W.A. member, Ice Cube has since moved on to create solo albums, produce records and movies and act in many films. The Gangsta Rap vocalist become one of the most famous and popular members of the rap community and has been dubbed as one of the greatest MC’s of all time. Cube is noted as one of the best lyricist and storytellers of the 90s and is regarded as a brutally honest rapper with his lyrics often insinuating a political stance on violence and aggression. Even to this day, he continuously delivers unparalleled raps and is without a doubt one of the founding fathers of gangsta rap.
While Tu Pac’s life was cut short at the young age of 25, the All Eyez On Me rapper proved to have been paving the way in the early 90s. Pac achieved great heights in his career that make him one of the most commendable artists of all times. Most of his songs send out a social message. He was greatly concerned with the social problems faced by the Afro-American community such as violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, conflicts with other rappers, social injustice, and poverty and police brutality.
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Since king Kendrick Lamar stepped into the music sense, the To Pimp A Butterfly MC has taken the genre by storm and especially after a brilliant debut album, a world-shattering verse on “Control,” and dozens of guest spots. Lamar has inherited the West Coast throne. Not to mention, his powerful and eye-opening Grammy’s performance earlier this year and taking home not one, not two, not three, but five trophies.
Nonetheless, these West Coast veterans have been and continue to be a prime staple for the golden state. Happy Birthday Ice Cube, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar!