"WEST SIDE TIL WE DIE!" - 2pac, Hit 'Em Up
Many things paved the way for West Coast Hip Hop to emerge to the mainstream in the late 80's. One of them being the founding of Unique Entertainment, a group influenced by many artists at the time including Prince, Parliament Funkadelic, etc. In 1981, Duffy Hooks launched the first West Coast rap label, Rappers Rapp Records. A byproduct of West Coast rap was the creation of Gangsta Rap, which was first defined in an early form by MixMaster Spade and his Compton Posse. Alonzo Williams formed World Class Wreckin' Cru, which would feature soon-to-be members of the Gangsta Rap group N.W.A.
In August 1988, N.W.A.'s trademark Straight Outta Compton was released launching them into stardom, and shifting the focus of rap away from the East Coast and onto the West. After N.W.A. fell apart, many of the members would go on to have very successful solo careers, including: Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy E. Ice Cube would also go on to have a very successful acting career.
1991 was another monumental year in West Coast Hip Hop with the founding of Death Row Records, and the release of 2pac's 2pacalypse Now. Which showed a social and political awareness not yet seen in the West Coast scene. Death Row quickly became the number one Rap label, giving many rappers their break, including: Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, Dr. Dre, and others. Death Row was the label that released The Chronic Dre's signature album and Doggystyle Snoop Dogg's debut.
The release of The Chronic marked the birth of G Funk, a sound that was unique to the West Coast.ed by Dre, the G Funk movement would slowly lose steam as the decade came to a close.
In 1994, the shooting of 2pac in Quad Studios in New York sparked a feud between the East and West Coasts. 2pac believed he had been "set up" by his former friend and East Coast icon Biggie Smalls. After he recovered he was forced to stand trial and was sentenced to prison for sexual abuse. Luckily, he was bailed out by Suge Knight, owner of Death Row records under one condition; he would record three albums for the label. The albums in question All Eyez On Me, and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (his remaining albums/songs were released posthumously) became his most well-known and most sold work.
Tensions continued growing between the two coasts with many picking sides, until 2pac was fatally shot on September 13th, 1996, while driving away from a club with Label owner Suge Knight. Biggie was also fatally shot not even a year after, on March 9th, 1997, tragically ending the feud.
The deaths of these two icons turned the Hip Hop world upside down. 2pac was undoubtedly the most famous, most popular, and most acclaimed West Coast rapper. Things seemed hopeless for West Coast Hip Hop, until the release of Dr. Dre's Chronic 2001 bringing about a brief resurgence of popularity for the genre. However things would not last as the genre finally faded into obscurity in the mid 2000's.