The future of music

30 Best West Coast Rappers of All Time

December 27, 2023
Best west coast rappers

I’ve curated a collection of the best West Coast rappers of all time, showcasing the unique sounds and influential styles that have defined the West Coast hip-hop scene.

This lineup celebrates the artists who have left an indelible mark on the genre and continue to inspire generations.

Top West Coast rappers of all time

  • Tupac Shakur
  • Snoop Dog
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Dr. Dre
  • The Game
  • Nate Dogg
  • Eazy-E
  • Ice Cube
  • Warren G
  • Vince Staples

1. Tupac Shakur

An iconic figure in the rap game, it’s hardly surprising Tupac Shakur tops our list of the best west coast rappers. 

Starting his musical journey in New York, Tupac is widely regarded as an influential historical figure.

His first-ever studio album, 2Pacalypse Now, took the West Coast by storm.

He was the voice of the voiceless, constantly tackling contemporary issues as the “unlikely martyr of gangsta rap.”

He paid the ultimate price in 1996 when he was gunned down in Las Vegas. 

But one thing is certain, Tupac’s legacy lives on. 

2. Snoop Dog

You can’t talk about West Coast without mentioning one soft-spoken, laidback California-born rapper.

Snoop Dogg’s journey began in 1992 after featuring in Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover” single. 

He reappeared in Dre’s debut album, The Chronic, and left his mark in the rap industry. 

Snoop’s solo album, Doggystyle, reached #1 on the Billboard 200. 

His enviable list of accolades includes 17 Grammy Nominations, a Primetime Emmy Award, and an American Music Award. 

3. Kendrick Lamar

Born Kendrick Lamar Duckworth in Compton, California, Lamar is another name straight out of the West Coast.

He was already writing rhymes as a little boy. 

And his first single, “Youngest Head Nigga in Charge,” got him signed by Anthony Tiffith’s Top Dawg Entertainment. 

Duckworth previously used the name K. Dot in his first 3 tracks before releasing his 2010 single, “Overly Dedicated,” as Lamar. 

Years later, the American rapper is still active in the music industry, releasing hit songs every time with multiple accolades to his name. 

4. Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre is a household name in the West Coast music industry. 

He set the foundation for music icons like Snoop Dog and was influential in creating the famous rap group N.W.A. 

His honors in the music industry, including 6 Grammy Awards, are the highlight of his career. 

5. The Game

Jayceon Terrell Taylor, better known as The Game, is one of the best west coast hip hop artists.

Like Snoop Dog, The Game attributes his success to Dr. Dre, who signed him to his Aftermath Records record label. 

Taylor’s ultimate breakthrough came in 2005 with the release of his debut album, The Documentary.

His 2006 follow-up album, Doctor’s Advocate, was the icing on the cake. 

6. Nate Dogg

Nathaniel Dwayne is best known as Snoop Dogg’s cousin. 

He launched his music career as part of the 213 trio rap group of Nate, Snoop, and Warren G. 

He cemented his name in the West Coast rap scene in the 90s, working closely with Xzibit, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre. 

Unfortunately, Nate died of heart failure in 2011, leaving behind an enviable legacy as the undisputed “King of Hooks.”

7. Eazy-E

Eazy-E belongs to a special group of artists who pushed gangsta rap beyond the borders. 

As a leader of the N.W.A. group, his contribution to the west coast music genre was just as good as his career.

Some call him the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap” because that’s precisely what he was in many people’s eyes. 

After a less successful solo career, he formed the N.W.A rap group alongside Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.

And that changed their fortunes, albeit for a short period.

A series of disputes with fellow N.W.A. members curtailed the group’s progress.

And once again, Eazy-E was forced to resume his solo career. 

Among his contributions to the music industry was nurturing the highly promising (and eventually, Grammy-winning) Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rap group. 

8. Ice Cube

Ice Cube began rapping at the tender age of 16.

And he is regarded as one of the top west coast gangsta rappers.

He was part of the N.W.A. alongside Eazy-E and Dr. Dre.

As the leader of one of West Coast’s best-ever rap groups, he wrote most of the lyrics for the group’s Straight Outta Compton studio album. 

Ice Cube is also renowned for his filming career, featuring in Boy in the Hood, Friday, and The Players Club. 

9. Warren G

Warren G is a California-born west coast rapper known from the 213 rap group, featuring Nate and Snoop Dogg.

As the godfather of G-punk, the singer enjoyed a stellar career thanks to his successful 1994 “Regulate” single. 

His second album, Take a Look Over Your Shoulder, reached the top 40 on the Billboard 200.

That was the same for his third album, I Want It All. 

However, His 2001 comeback album, The Return of the Regulator, failed to reach the high standards he had set throughout his career. 

10. Vince Staples

Vince Staples is a west coast rapper who shot to fame thanks to his appearances on Odd Future Members’ albums and his Stolen Youth mixtape. 

His 2015 debut album, Summertime 06, earned positive reviews.

And that was the beginning of an illustrious music career. 

11. Kurupt

Kurupt is a gangsta rap pioneer, like Eazy-E and most other westside rappers. 

He debuted as a member of the S.O.S band, releasing his first solo album in 1998.

At only 19, Kurupt signed with Dr. Dre and Suge Knight’s Death Row Records. 

At this record label, he joined a group of talented west coast rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, RBX, and Daz Dillinger. 

Kurupt teamed up with Daz as a musical duo named the Dogg Pound and featured on Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle” debut album. 

As the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry escalated in 1996, Dogg Pound released a new single, “New York, New York,” with Snoop Dogg slandering the populous megacity. 

Tupac Shakur’s unfortunate murder in 1996 fuelled a mass exodus from Death Row Records, including Kurupt, who signed with A&M Records. 

12. Coolio

Leon Ivey Jnr., or Coolio, rose to fame as a WC and the Maad Circle member. 

His solo projects were a huge commercial success, with standout hits like “My Soul,” “Gangsta’s Paradise,” and “It Takes a Thief” taking center stage.  

Before he became an icon in the Westside music scene, Coolio was a severely asthmatic boy who relied on his single mother for survival. 

His teenage rapping skills earned him the Coolio Iglesias nickname.

And by the time of his demise in 2022, he had become a mainstay name in the West Coast rap industry, with an admirable music career and a rare side of philanthropy. 

13. Doja Cat

Doja Cat began his music career as a humble little girl on SoundCloud. 

Her 2014 “So High” single was the breakthrough hit and got her signed to Kemosabe and RCA Records at only 17. 

She became an internet sensation with her 2018 “Mooo!” single.

Doja is still active in the music industry, with her creative music videos and strong melody always attracting the attention of her fans and social media users.  

14. Mack 10

In the mid-90s, when West Coast rap was at its best and artists like Ice Cube reigned supreme, there was a less common figure in the music industry called Mack 10. 

His greatest career breakthrough came during the same period, with hit albums such as Mack 10, Bow Down, and Based on a True Story.

Unfortunately, Mack 10’s short-lived fame dwindled at the turn of the decade.

His 2001 Bang or Ball album failed to live up to the mid-90s hype. 

He switched from solo projects to major labels but couldn’t cement his name in a rapidly evolving music industry. 

15. MC Hammer 

The man who popularized the Hammer pants is famed for his “2 Legit 2 Quit” and “U Can’t Touch This” hits. 

Best known for his epic dance movements, unmatched choreography, and famous Hammer pants, MC Hammer is one of the top west coast rappers. 

His pop rap music style stood out in the West Coast music scene. 

With the rise of gangsta rap in the 80s, MC Hammer had to appeal to his fans worldwide.  

However, the critical backlash led to his ultimate downfall, with his popularity dwindling in the mid-90s. 

16. MC Ren

MC Ren launched his musical career in 1987 after Eazy-E’s Ruthless Record signed him the same year.

His success largely hinged on his relationship with Eazy-E, writing multiple songs for the latter’s Eazy-Duz-It debut album. 

He was a member of the famed N.W.A. rap group until its disbandment in 1991. 

Then, he embarked on a solo career, releasing his Kizz My Black Azz EP in 1992, which was an instant hit.  

17. Tyler, the Creator

Tyler, the Creator, rose to popularity with his 2009 “Bastard” mixtape. 

His horrorcore-influenced rap style attracted many people’s attention at the beginning of his musical career.

And his 2011 Goblin debut album earned him widespread attention, even more so because of the “Yonkers” single. 

In 2013, Tyler started switching to an alternative hip-hop sound from the classic horrorcore rap style that had made him a popular figure in the rap industry. 

18. Saweetie

Some people know her from dating Quavo of the famous Migos rap group.

But Diamonte Quiava Valentin Harper’s musical journey began at only 14 years old when she discovered her passion for the craft.  

After releasing her debut single, “Icy Girl,” in 2017, Saweetie was signed to Artistry Worldwide. 

She released her debut EP, “High Maintenance,” in 2018. 

Her latest singles, “Tap In” and “Best Friend,” reached the top 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

19. Xzibit

Xzibit isn’t probably the first name that comes to mind when discussing the modern rap industry.

But back in the 90s, he was a mainstay name in the Westside rap scene, alongside Dr. Dre and other artists. 

He combined the East and West Coast elements in his songs, which earned him praise from hip-hop fans. 

After a short hiatus, he returned with the Serial Killers hip-hop group in 2013. 

20. Juice Wrld

Juice Wrld was a prominent figure in the SoundCloud and emo rap genres.

He began his music career in 2015 as an independent artist before signing a contract with Interscope Records and Grade A Products in 2017. 

He gained worldwide fame with his “Lucid Dreams” single, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

His triple platinum studio album, Goodbye & Good Riddance, featured hit singles like “Lean wit Me,” “All Girls Are The Same,” and “Wasted.”

Sadly, the American rapper breathed his last in August 2019, succumbing to a suspected drug overdose.

21. Roddy Rich

Roddy Rich is a recent addition to the long list of westside rappers.

But he has already proven his worth with innovative music and hit songs like “Die Young.”

Rich’s Feed The Streets and Feed Tha Streets mixtapes have received huge praises from music critics worldwide.

And if his recent performances are anything to go by, he could be the new face of West Coast rap. 

22. Ice-T

Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Ice-T is one of the few west coast stars with east coast roots.

His “Cop Killer” track was the subject of controversy thanks to its lyrical content. 

Ice-T has fared well in the acting scene, playing parts in Breakin, Surviving the Game, and New Jack City.

His life is a story of passion, resilience, and dedication. 

Ice-T lost his mother at a young age. 

And by 13, he was a total orphan following his father’s death from a heart attack. 

Orphaned and heartbroken but passionate about music, Ice-T was determined to make it at all costs. 

And he did it against all odds. 

23. Schoolboy Q

Quincy Matthew Hanley, best known as Schoolboy Q, was born in Wiesbaden, West Germany. 

Hanley had a rough childhood after his parents divorced just before his birth. 

He was a drug dealer before he started pursuing his music career. 

Recounting his music journey, Schoolboy Q says he only took it seriously when he was 21, kicking off his career with Top Dawg Entertainment.

After his breakthrough in 2008, the American rapper formed Black Hippy alongside Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, and Jay Rock. 

The west coast rapper takes inspiration from iconic figures in the hip-hop industry like 50 Cent, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z. 

24. Jay Rock

Jay Rock was part of the Black Hippy hip-hop group formed by a trio of west coast rappers, including Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q.

Like Schoolboy Q, he signed for Top Dawg Entertainment at the beginning of his musical career.

He went on to become one of the greatest west coast rappers.

Rock’s admirable solo career began with his 2008 “All My Life (In The Ghetto)” commercial single. 

In 2011, he released the much anticipated Follow Me Home debut album, with a highly successful single, “Hood Gone Love It,” featuring long-time buddy and fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar. 

His second and third albums were released in 2015 and 2018, further cementing his name in the hearts of the West Coast hip-hop faithful. 

25. Dom Kennedy 

Dominic Russ Hunn, or Dom Kennedy, as he’s famously known, took the streets of Los Angeles by storm with his 2008 debut project, 25th Hour.

The Leimert Park rapper made a name for himself with his “Watermelon Sundae” song.

Some believe Kennedy would have been more famous had he signed on to one of the popular record labels instead of releasing independent mixtapes. 

26. Brotha Lynch Hung

Brotha Lynch Hung might be the least popular rapper on this list.

But his talent is there for everyone to see.

Brotha stands out with his G-funk and horror style. 

And his “24 Deep” single laid the foundation for the ultimate success.

The peak of his career was the 2010 Dinner And a Movie album that put his name on the global map. 

27. Earl Sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt is a reflective west coast rapper who rose to prominence in the 2010s.

Renowned for his alt-rap and morbid horrorcore rap styles, he’s regarded as one of the most brilliant rappers in the industry.

Earl made his solo debut in 2010 with a mixtape of the same name (Earl) before releasing two albums (Doris and I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside) in 2013 and 2015, respectively. 

The rapper featured in most songs by Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator before releasing his third album, Some Rap Songs, in 2018. 

28. Mac Dre

Andre Louis Hicks, commonly known as Mac Dre, was a pioneer of the hyphy cultural movement of the 2000s. 

He stood out with his fast-paced bass lines and rhymes.

Besides supporting aspiring rappers craving a career breakthrough, Mac recorded multiple albums through his Thizz Entertainment record label. 

Hicks dropped the stage name MC Dre for Mac Dre in 1985 because he felt it sounded more East-coast.

Unfortunately, the rapper was murdered in November 2004 under mysterious circumstances. 

During his admirable career, Hicks worked with Snoop Dogg, Dubee, Mac Mall, and Yukmouth, among other west side rappers. 

29. Nipsey Hussle

Nipsey Hussle’s 14-year career in the rap world made him an iconic figure in the West Coast rap scene.

He was famous for his mixtapes, with each release only cementing his name in the rap music industry.

His passion went beyond the confine of rap music. 

And this was evident in his shrewd commitment to activism.

Nipsey’s musical career soared when he collaborated with Drake for their 2015 “Killer” single.

Another breakthrough moment was his collaboration with Problem and Snoop Dogg for the “Upside Down” song. 

30. Kanye West

Now, this will be controversial. 

The little-known secret about Kanye West is that he did most of his projects while living in California.

And that makes him one of the most influential rappers to come out of the West Coast.  

Best West Coast Rappers – Final Thoughts

The west coast is blessed with some of the greatest rappers in hip-hop history. 

Spanning multiple decades and different singing styles, these 30 great rappers have undoubtedly left their mark on the Westside music scene.

Their influence in the industry is felt far and wide, and their legacy will last generations. 

While some artists on this list only enjoyed limited commercial success, most revolutionized the rap music industry and helped put West Coast on the global map. 

That was for you, West Coast lovers (Or haters). 

Similar Articles:

Best Rappers of All Time

Best East Coast Rappers

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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