The superiority of
the West Coast crumbled when Tupac Shakur was murdered in 1996, Dr. Dre
switched sides and Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records, was jailed over
business practices. Although Dr. Dre let West Coast hip-hop bloom again with
his comeback album called “2001” in 1999 (Adaso, 2017),
hip-hop’s emphasis had shifted back to the East Coast and to the emerging South
by the end of the 1990’s (AllMusic, 2017).
For gender prejudices and negative impacts on African-American women, e-hop
music and its subculture was and still is the subject of relentless criticism.
Lyrics by gangsta rap artists like Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg include the
portrayal of women as sex toys and the inferiority of women to men (Giovacchini, 1999). As a consequence, masculine
sovereignty and the dependence of women on men gets specifically fostered
through hip-hop music (Weitzer &
Kubrin, 2009, p. 12).
In certain hip-hop lyrics and videos, the portrayal of women is ignominious,
sexualized and forcible (Cundiff, 2013, p.
Additional, women are shown with idealized bodies and being the object of male
enjoyment (Emerson, 2002, p.
Humiliating lyrics and the depiction of sexual violence and sexual assault
towards women are represented in a high frequency of records (Cundiff, 2013, p. 3). Due to these
anti-women hip-hop lyrics, some male listeners created negative stereotypes of
young urban African-American women and even made physical threats toward those (Morgan, 2005, p.
Death Row Records built up an empire around Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the
charismatic, revolutionary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur (Light & Tate, 2017), who joined the
label in late 1995 and became a superstar with the hit song “California Love”
featuring Dr. Dre (AllMusic, 2017). In 1996, he
released his classic and most famous album called “All Eyez on Me” on Death Row
Records (Errey, 2017). At the same time, a
rivalry emerged between Death Row Records and New York City’s Bad Boy Records. This
rivalry evolved into a media-fueled feud between East Coast and West Coast
rappers, which ended in a tragedy (Light & Tate,
As he rode in a car driven by Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight near the
Las Vegas strip on September 7th 1996, Tupac Shakur was lethally injured by
multiple gunshots. 5 days later, he died. The debate on whether rap furthers
violence or just mirrors the ugly side of the streets was revived by his death (Adaso, 2017).
G-Funk was heard for the first time when former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre
released his album called “The Chronic” at the end of 1992 (Errey, 2017). The unique
production of this album with its whiny synthesizers, P-Funk beats and deep,
slow grooves was the blueprint that helped Los Angeles’ Death Row Records
becoming the major hip-hop label of the early 1990’s with hits scored by Snoop
Dogg, Warren G and many more (AllMusic, 2017). “The Chronic” had
already achieved multi-platinum status in the year after its release and only
one year later, in 1994, Warren G’s “Regulate: The G-Funk Era” was also
certified 4x platinum (Adaso, 2017). Funk grooves by the
famous P-Funk group “Parliament-Funkadelic” were often sampled by G-Funk
producers by slowing them down to create relaxing beats with female backing
vocals, funky bass lines and electronic effects. The lyrics of G-Funk rappers
were more focused on partying, drugs and sex than violence, crime and guns (Errey, 2017).
Gangsta rap played an important role in hip-hop becoming mainstream. Black
teens were no longer hip-hop’s only buyership because albums like N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton”, Eazy-E’s “Eazy-Duz-It” and Ice Cube’s “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” were sold in
such high numbers which led to new audiences and customers (Kitwana, 2006, p. 118). There were parts of the United States that were unaware of the
conditions of the ghettos. Gangsta rap became some kind of a stage for artists
who used their music to spread political and social messages to these mentioned
parts (Strode &
Wood, 2008, p. 186).
Media critics claim that political and social hip-hop has mostly been
neglected by mainstream America, while hip-hop music addresses a wider
population (Butler, 2017).
I mean they’ve
done movies about nurse killers and teacher killers and student killers. Arnold
Schwarzenegger blew away dozens of cops as the Terminator. But I don’t hear
anybody complaining about that. It’s like they want to shut rappers down. They
want to silence us. The Supreme Court says it’s OK for a white man to burn a
cross in public. But nobody wants a black man to write a record about a cop
killer. (Philips, 1992)
Ice-T was also seen as one of the developers of the gangsta rap genre (Errey, 2017). He recorded “6 N’
the Mornin'”, what some consider to be the first original gangsta rap song (Strode &
Wood, 2008, p. 186). In tracks like “You Played Yourself”
from 1990, he started by sampling funk-orientated music and rapping about drugs
and their perils, felony and dropping out of school (Errey, 2017). His song “Cop
Killer” from the album “Body Count” even caused an extensive altercation,
because the story of the song is told from the perception of a villain getting
revenge on racist and brutal cops. Several police advocacy groups, the National
Rifle Association and government officials were irritated by Ice-T’s rock song.
Because of the controversy about “Cop Killer”, Time Warner Music consequently
denied to release Ice-T’s imminent album “Home Invasion.” Ice-T stated that the
riot over the song was an overreaction and besides that, the misunderstanding
and the efforts to censor it contained racial hints, telling journalist Chuck
violent stories of downtown real life gave birth to the genre known as
gangsta rap (Light & Tate, 2017). Straight Outta
Compton, N.W.A.’s 1989 gangsta-rap milestone, paved the way for a more
recognizable West Coast rap style (AllMusic, 2017) and was the most
significant response to New York hip-hop (Light & Tate, 2017). On this album, the
members of N.W.A. rapped about injustice and police violence in their
neighborhood, because they were from Compton, one of Los Angeles’ poorest and
most violent districts (Errey, 2017).
Its sound was hard-core and minimalist, its lyrics varied between violent
pleasure addiction and furious social statement (AllMusic, 2017). The
song “Fuck tha Police” off the album even provoked the first substantial
contention concerning hip-hop lyrics by earning a letter from FBI Assistant
Director Milt Ahlerich, who explicitly enunciated law enforcement’s contempt
for the song (Ritchie, 2007). N.W.A’s second
album “Niggaz4Life” from 1991,
which sold over 954’000 copies in its first week of release (Adaso, 2017), became the first
gangsta rap album which reached the number one spot on the charts (Hess, 2009, p.
Ice Cube made solo records which retained that lyrical sound while
including noisy production after leaving N.W.A (AllMusic, 2017). A good example of such a record is his
classic gangsta album “Death Certificate” from 1991 (Errey, 2017).
As West Coast rap grew in popularity in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s,
the group N.W.A., with its famous members Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, was in
the lead. Their metaphorical and
During the middle section of the 1990’s, the hip-hop scene was dominated by
West Coast Rap, which turned gangsta rap into an admired miracle while Dr. Dre
was constituted as one of the most important individuals in rap history. The
rap scene of California was way more diverse, even if Dr. Dre’s created G-funk
determined the West Coast sound. East Coast party rap was mainly copied by West
Coast rap until the mid- to the late 1980’s. Nevertheless, Los Angeles and the
Bay Area soon demonstrated to be productive regions. The comedy rap of The
Pharcyde, the enormous powerful, Latino-colored stoner funk of Cypress Hill and
the pioneering gangsta related recordings of Ice-T were all produced in Los
Angeles. The Bay Area however answered with Too $hort and his pimp-obsessed
rhymes, Digital Underground and their happy, P-Funk-inspired songs and the pop
success of MC Hammer. Summarized, West Coast rap became as versatile and
difficult to classify as East Coast rap (AllMusic, 2017).
The four elements of hip-hop in general are DJing, MCing (rapping), graffiti
art and break dancing, defined by DJ Afrika Bambaataa (Brown, 2009). During the 1980’s and the
1990’s, this cultural movement obtained enormous popularity.
Hip-hop is the backing music for rap, which is a musical style including
rhythmic and rhyming speech. Rap is the movement’s most enduring and most
powerful art form (Light & Tate, 2017). Rap went viral from
its birthplace New York through the rest of the United States and then to
plenty of other countries. Every region in the United States has its own
specific style of hip-hop music (AllMusic, 2017).