On Friday August 7, Dr. Dre will release his first album in 16 years titled "Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre". The highly anticipated album will exclusively be available on the Apple Music platform. As a longtime fan of hip hop, I'm amazed at how Dr. Dre has been able to stay relevant in the industry for so many years. Prior to releasing the original Chronic under Death Row Records, Dre was a member of the NWA who helped usher a new era of hip hop that the mainstream media so eloquently called "gangster rap". This was the hip hop version of punk rock, infiltrating the mainstream and becoming a powerhouse in the music industry. Soon everybody was loudly blaring Hip Hop in their speakers from the urban derelict to the geeky suburban wannabe. In homage to the 'Godfather' of West coast hip hop I went ahead and made a list of my all time favorite west coast tracks. Here we go.
Honorable Mention: Tha Dogg Pound "Respect"
After making guest appearances on many other artist's album Daz and Kurupt finally dropped their own album under Death Row Records. The album didn't disappoint with many classic sounds throughout however for myself, one of them stood out from the rest. Daz and Kurupt seamlessly trade verses and although they have contrasting styles, they work perfectly together. I remember being a fan of the TV show New York Undercover because they played this song in the intro of one of their episodes. Even though 'Lets play house' was probably the most popular song on the album, I would always skip to track three or actually I would fast forward because we had these things called cassettes that didn't let you easily skip songs like we do today.
#10 Above the Law "Black Superman"
This song is one of those west coast bangers that instantly make you nod your head when the beat starts. Above the Law originally signed on with Ruthless Records which was started by Eazy E. Since I was already a huge fan of Eazy E, naturally I became a huge fan of the Ruthless crew, especially the Bone Thugs and Harmony. I remember being in class and not being able to get the beat of this song out of my head. I couldn't wait to pull out my walkman and blare Black Superman through my headphones.
#9 DJ Quick "Safe and Sound"
Whenever people mention all the top West coast rappers, rarely do they mention Quick. He was another one of those 'G-Funk' rappers, short for gangster funk. His beats incorporated melodic grooves with deep bass, synth, and female backup vocals. What really sets apart west coast hip hop for me are the hooks. Special attention was given to the choruses. Safe and Sound is no exception with one of my favorite hooks.
#8 Xzibit Paparazzi
I almost didn't want to include Xzibit on this list because he was the host of Mtv's 'Pimp my Ride' but this song is so good that I couldn't keep it off this list. The first time I heard the beat I had goosebumps. What's crazy is this song sampled an old Barbara Streisand track. Funny how that was made into a banger when you lay Xzibit's booming voice over the beat. Instant classic.
#7 Warren G "Regulate"
Sampled off an Michael Mcdonald song, you will still hear this song on the radio today and everyone will sing along. Any song with Nate Dogg is instantly better. Instantly. The king of g-funk, Warren G is the smoothest of MC's and exemplifies everything that makes is the west coast. This song always gives me a sense of nostalgia when it comes on.
# 6 Tupac "California Love"
California Love came out at the height of gangster rap and Death Row records. Tupac was one of the most polarizing characters in hip hop. When this album was being produced, he was fresh out of jail which aided the marketing and created such an unstoppable hype machine. Some may say that this ranking is too low but I just couldn't place this song in my top five.
#5 The Pharcyde "Passing Me By"
Many would ask why I placed The Pharcyde so high. They were a little goofy with childish lyrics and anything but gangster. What made them great was their lyrical genius. The stories they told in their songs were what everyone is thinking and they articulated so well. They wanted no part in being gangster, but they were all about being real. There is not one person that can't relate to the lyrics of passing me by.
# 4 Eazy E "Real Muthaphukkin G's"
Without Eazy E there would be no gangster rap. Period. There would be no revolution. He started the high profile hip hop beef. Sure he wasn't the greatest MC. He couldn't flow with the best of them. But the man had a vision. He was the real deal. He ignited a revolution that not only permeated the west coast but sent the nation's capital in a frenzy. This song was a direct diss to Dr. Dre who was his longtime companion. Even though they had their differences, they used it to their benefit by bringing out the best in each other. Eric Wright AKA Eazy E should always be viewed as a pioneer in the rap game.
#3 Ice Cube "Today was a Good Day"
This has to be the most memed song of all time. I don't know if 'memed' can be used as a verb but I just did it. Ice Cube has one of the greatest voices in Hip Hop. His booming delivery is iconic. He might not have the greatest discography, but when he was good he was great. "Good Day" will always be a timeless classic.
#2 Snoop Dogg "Who am I" (What's my Name)
This was Snoop Dogg's coming out party. His solo debut album "Doggystyle" went platinum six times. I could have picked at least 4 other songs off this album to put on this list but "Who am I" displays everything that is great about the Dogfather. Dre and Snoop will forever be one of hip hop's most dynamic duos, any time they get together, quality music will ensue. Although Snoop never matched the genius of Doggystyle, he gets a lifetime pass for this record.
#1(A) NWA "Straight Outta Compton"
I wasn't able to decide on what should be number one on the list so I decided to make a 1a and 1b. I know its probably a cop out but I don't care, its my list. I could have made it 100 songs long because there are so many to choose from. NWA came out with a sound, style and message that had never been heard. They were the voice of the inner city and they made sure that their message be heard. The anger, pain and struggle came through in every song. When the NWA came out with their iconic album, nobody would have guessed how huge the movement would have been. Nobody except for the NWA that is.
#1(B) The Chronic "Nuthin but a G Thang"
The Chronic, Dr. Dre's masterpiece. There's reason as to why it takes Dre so long to come out with a record. You hardly need to skip any tracks when you listen to them. The Chronic raised the bar high for hip hop. For years everyone tried to top The Chronic only to be left in its behemoth shadow. Many new generations of rappers were born after hearing this album. Even if Dre's latest album doesn't reach the heights of The Chronic, the Doctor has clearly made his mark on hip hop.
There are probably a lot of people shaking their head at these rankings, but one thing's for certain, Dre has his fingerprints all over this list.