Five of Speed on the Beat's Top Five: West Coast Artists

By @SpeedontheBeat

The West Coast is ripe with musical legend talent. So, let's just get this out the way. I enjoy many West Coast artists, especially snice they've influenced my approach to music (heavy samples, obscurity-laced lyrics, etc.). True asked me to provide five of my favorite artists from the Left Coast. Honestly, I could gone on for hours and artists. But, I'll narrow it down to five of the several West Coast artists who always find their way into my playlist(s). So, here we go. These are in no real order. And, if you're asking "why no Ice-T?" That's because his day's coming later.

Too $hort:

For starters, like NWA and other legendary artists, hip-hop would be a lot different without $hort. See, what people sometimes fail to realize about $hort, since they want to make him out to be just a raunchy dude who's favorite word is "bitch," the man is a storyteller. Listen to "Freaky Tales," for instance. 

Yes, it's raunchy. But, as the title says, there's a story to be had. Additionally, "Freaky Tales" is iconic in the sense that its sound is still being emulated now in new ways (hi DJ Mustard). $hort is also pretty diverse. He can spit about freaking about 100 chicks over ten minutes then come out with "The Ghetto." That sort of diversity is missing in music these days from many artists. Finally, the man's put out over twenty albums

Kendrick Lamar:

Kendrick, in some ways, is kind of a combination of $hort and Pac, with some Dre and E-40 mixed in for good measure. In one verse, he can go from "ignant" to the Missing Lost Poet, to "I'll bust yo' head boy," back to profound, and not miss a step. He's more the product of a conglomeration of hip-hop, especially the West Coast, than just a magic man who descended from the heavens. That's not an insult to his genius, by the way. To Pimp a Butterfly is undeniable on that front.

I'm just saying that Kendrick's amazing talents make me think of these legends whenever he spits. He manipulates his voice to flow more on the track, he's able to talk about pimps and hoes while still spitting knowledge, and he's, like the names I mentioned, also a legend.


When I was a younger man (read: before puberty really hit), I identified with Eazy. While I wasn't out banging or anything, the struggle was real and listening to "Real Muthaphuckkin' G's" and "Boyz-N-The-Hood" was a rally cry of sorts for me to get off my you-know-what and actually get things right, one way or another. I didn't agree with some of his political leanings, but his flow was impeccable. Plus, if you rap and can pull as many non-rap influences into your music as Eazy--and N.W.A. as a whole--did, you've got to be on that top-five, top-ten caliber. Additionally, his last words to his fans--as controversial as some of the possible edits may be--were on a Magic Johnson-level of understanding with regards to his role in educating people about the dangers of the world.

Madlib (a/k/a Quasimoto):

I don't think there's really much I can say about the multi-faceted artist other than "damn!" He's inventive, innovative, and just plain incredible.

Dr. Dre:

I have a review of Chronic and 2001 on the DAR site. I think my words there rationalize why Dre should always be considered top-five.

Now, of course, I've left out artists (Ice-T, 2Pac, Game, etc.). That's not a reflection on their artistic status, as, for instance, 2Pac is one of my favorite artists overall. But, the five artists listed above are five that I can put in my iPod ten years from now and still say "damn, this is legendary." Pac fits in that category as well, but I could only pick five and, like I said, you can't just play one Ice-T track and leave it at that. So...yeah. 


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