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Who’s the Greatest L.A. Rapper of All-Time?

Posted by Nathan S. on 01/22/14 | Filed under Top Stories, Debates, RH Nation Answers, City Series

Last week I launched our new "City Series", where we debate the best rappers from every city in hip-hop that matters, and I have to say it went well. According to RefinedHype Nation, Nas is the NYC GOAT, with Wu-Tang in second place and Biggie in third. Well played. 

Moving on...since the deaths of Biggie and Pac have still made it impossible to talk about east coast hip-hop without immediately jumping to the west coast to balance things out, next up we're doing my current hometown, the city of angels failed actresses and broken dreams, Los Angeles.  

For the full background on what inspired the "City Series" click here, and as a refresher, here are the guidelines for defining "Greatest From That City": 

Inherent Dopeness: In a vacuum where record sales and influence don't matter, how purely/rawly dope are they? If you could only listen to one rapper from that city until the day you died, who would you pick? If there's a national rap battle, best song wins, who are you picking to represent that city? 

Influence: When they did something, did the rest of their city follow? And by extension, did the rest of the country follow? Have they proven they can have multiple generations of influence? 

City Association: The two above are pretty standard criteria for any RefinedHype debate, but this is the x-factor in the "City Series" - how closely is that rapper linked to his/her city? For example, if I say "Toronto hip-hop" a lot of people's strongest assocation is going to be with Drake. (It's an example, relax, we'll get to the Toronto-specific debate in due time.) By contrast, while Tupac's roots are Bay Area, he also has some really strong associations with L.A. (Again, we'll get there.) Point it, the greatest rapper from that city has to really embody and represent that city. 

There's still a lot of grey area there, but at least it will provide all of us with a framework to yell at each other talk about this intelligently and respectfully. Speaking of which, let's get onto some of the nominees that come to mind: 

Dr. Dre: Just fucking with you. Although, if you've ever ghostwritten for Dre, there's a pretty good chance that you're one of the greatest L.A. rappers ever. 

Tupac: The controversy here will really come from the City Assocation criteria. Unlike a Nas, who's just purely NYC, or Outkast, who are purely Atlanta, Pac was born in New York, came of age in the Bay Area and made his name in Los Angeles. So a lot of cities could reasonably claim him, but I think ultimately in the public imagination and in terms of the impact he had on hip-hop, he's a L.A. rapper.  

Snoop Dogg: City association score through the roof, obviously hugely influential and impressive longevity. In some ways though that longevity had hurt him - since we've seen him go through all the name changes and marketing campaigns I think a lot have forgotten just how dope of an emcee he was...and when he's properly motivated, continued to be. 

Ice Cube: Very similiar to Snoop in terms of city association and influence - let's not forget, there was a time when Cube was the unquestioned King of gangster rap. Unfortunately he hasn't really given a shit about rhyming in a decade or so, not with that movie money coming in, but even off his old work, and factoring in his N.W.A. shit, I think he's in this conversation. 

Kendrick Lamar: Obviously the young gun here, and accordingly he hasn't had the impact and influence of the veterans. But his inherent dopeness is huge, and it raises a good question: when do we start to let him into the all-time discussion? It was obvious from his rookie year that Lebron could be an all-time best, but at what point has he earned the right to actually be included in that all-time conversation? Something to marinate on.

Obviously a lot more names that need to be brought up here, from old school(er) rappers like Ice-T and D.O.C. to guys like Murs and anyone associated with the Freestyle Fellowship to Crooked I and the next generation that's really reviving L.A. hip-hop. 

Do any of those names belong in that short list I already wrote out above? Are they actually the L.A. GOAT? Good questions, and that's the point of these. This isn't meant to be some definitive list that I write and you react to. I'm just getting the conversation started, from here you can vote, add in your own nominees, etc. This shit is a democracy...of which I'm the dictator. But still, a democracy.   

Have at it people. 

Who's the Greatest LA Rapper of All-Time?

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