By Josh Bowles
There’s Hip Hop and there’s “Hip Hop”. The East and West coasts of America are undoubtedly the two historical powerhouses and they fall into this second category.
It is well accepted that Hip Hop originated in New York City during the 1970s with lyrical dexterity that differs from all other old school Hip Hop. This original foundation can still be heard through the beats produced by the likes of Jay-Z, which have a tendency to focus on lyrics above all else. Notably, Biggie Smalls would be the perfect example of this with lines flowing like “either you sellin crack rock or you got a wicked jumpshot.” Its this dirty side that is inherent in all East coast artists from Nas to the duo that singlehandedly revolutionized the way MCs approach sets with multi-syllabic lyricism, Eric B and Rakim.
While lyrics play an eminent part in West coast Hip Hop they are often added to through sampling. Furthermore, the growth of the gangster rap artists like Ice Cube and then Snoop Dogg with his funky beats, Los Angeles was and still is more than entertained. While some may suggest that this takes away from the foundations of Hip Hop, the West coast should be considered to have remodeled the genre with little or no impact on the quality output.
This difference is what has allowed for a rivalry that would no doubt still be there even without the personal conflicts of Suge Knight vs Puff Daddy and then between the late artists Biggie Smalls and Tupac. To suggest a victor between these two is to allow for personal preference rather than analysis of musical talents. East coast of course was the originator but once West coast acts such as NWA appeared the East coast’s hold on the world of Hip Hop was challenged. This is especially true with continued popularity of G-Funk, most notably seen through its undoubted king, the recently deceased Nate Dogg.
That said, with Brooklyn (NY) producing an artist with the best flow ever to hit the scene, Biggie Smalls, some may say that the East coast will always edge it. This individual though did not spell a fatal blow to the West Coast with them then producing the best Hip Hop poet of all time, Tupac. The West coast was not undermined by genius of Biggie and to this day fans argue about who was the best.
Ultimately it is not up to any commentator to say which side proves the victor, as it is undoubtedly a personal choice. Give the songs a listen and see what you think of the tracks. You can either appreciate that both sides of the US have got a lot to give or you can pick one and start hating on the other coast.
Here then are a few songs to give you a feel for the differing beats from both sides, enjoy and feel free to love both coasts and not just side with one…. Or not!