West Coast rap is a style of music that emerged in California in 1979. It has since grown into a sub-genre of hip-hop and has developed several creative centers, most of which are communities in California. Pioneers of the genre include Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp, however the west coast would receive more notoriety in the mid-eighties, when Ice T and especially N.W.A, ignited gangsta rap. N.W.A's controversial debut album even prompted a letter from the FBI. It dominated the hip-hop air waves in the early and mid-1990s, along with G-funk. Some consider the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic to be the peak of west coast rap.
In the mid-90's, feuds emerged between high-profile west coast and east coast rappers, namely 2Pac and Biggie Smalls. The two former collaborators began to beef after 2Pac claimed Biggie and Sean "P-Diddy" Combs were responsible for him being shot outside of a Manhattan recording studio in 1994. The two released several incendiary diss tracks aimed at each other, including Biggies's "Who Shot Ya" and Pac's "Hit 'Em Up," and the feud would come to cut both of their careers tragically short.
Following the death of 2Pac, West coast rap went through a decline in popularity as rappers like Eminem, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Kanye West came to dominate the mainstream audience. Rappers from the South, particularly Atlanta and Houston, began to rise up as well, including OutKast (Andre 3000 and Big Boi) and Lil Wayne. West Coast pride has recently experienced a revival with artists like Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q, who are all signed to Top Dawg Entertainment.
The cultural nexus of West Coast hip hop is usually considered to be the greater Los Angeles area, but it can also include the Inland Empire, the Bay Area, Sacramento, San Diego, Fresno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, and even Denver.
Stylistically, West coast rap differed from its East coast counterpart in a variety of ways. The West coast favored melodic synthesizers, slow beats with deep bass, funky grooves, and used unaltered samples less frequently. Today the differences between the coasts have become much less pronounced, and the fallout of the Biggie/2Pac beef has largely prevented any more major cross-coast feuds. .