Do you remember where you were the first time you heard “The Chronic” Dr. Dre’s funked out samples and those iconic drum patterns laced with little bits of California sunshine? I do, I was around 8 years old, sitting in the back of my families 1988 Ford Aerostar with my two older brothers. My brothers and I had begged our parents for weeks to buy the new Dr. Dre album (Dre was coming off the departure from his group NWA). After countless unsuccessful attempts, my parents finally caved and drove us to the local Tower Records (showing my age) and purchased one of the greatest pieces of black art created. Although, my mom definitely had a problem with a man calling himself a doctor with no proof and don’t even get me started on trying to explain Snoop Doggy Dogg to her. Now I have to explain that in 1992 Chronic wasn’t a heavily used term, most people didn’t know it was a word for high-quality weed. So where red flags might have triggered from the album’s title, we were able to slide under the radar, unknowingly though because I nor my brothers had no clue what weed was at the time. So now we’re back in the Aerostar, we start to drive off and my mom reluctantly pops in our brand new cassette, those infamous words from Dre “Welcome to Deathrow”, Synthesizers start to twang and Snoop Dogg welcomes everyone to Deathrow Records again, well he actually invited all the “niggas and niggettes” and don’t forget the l Locs. I swear I saw my mom & pops’ head let out a bit of steam and their face showed perplexed amazement of the vulgarity that was blasting through those factory speakers. The cassette was immediately snatched from the deck and literally, I mean literally tossed out the window by my mother while my dad simultaneously replaced it with Earth Wind and Fire’s “That’s The Way of The World” tape. And my gangsta rap dreams were destroyed even before truly ever budding, at least as far as my parents knew.
After that fateful day, I immersed myself in all things “Gangsta/WestCoast” rap that I could get my hands on. From the funked out Dj Quik or Ice Cube + Da LenchMob the gritty Bloods and Crips releases including “Damu Rydaz”, to G funk laced Warren G and Nate Dogg or Gangsta Dre from Sacramento, and one of my all-time favorites Lunasicc aka Luni Coleone and basically every rapper from Garden Block including of course Brotha Lynch Hung and X-raided.
During the first golden era of gangsta rap which I classify as ‘89-’00 saw Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg heavily dominating both ends of the spectrum. there was now so much room for all kinds of new styled acts and artist. Gangsta rap also made several appearances on the silver screen throughout the golden years with major studio releases like Boyz in the Hood, Menace to Society, Friday and smaller independent cult films such as South Central, In Too Deep, or Tales From the Hood.
While 2Pac was screaming thug life and Delores Tucker was calling for the end of gangsta rap. Kurupt and Daz were verbally sparring with the East Coast along with the rest of Deathrow Records. September 11th, 1996 2Pac Shakur succumbed to the gunshots in Las Vegas, Nevada, With the joint toll of the death of 2Pac and the rise of southern hip-hop acts like Master P with No Limit Records and Juvenile with Cash Money Records gangsta rap had been put on the back burner.
Small spurts of greatness were still being shown in the genre like Dre’s “Chronic 2001″, Xzibit and his blow up in the latter 90’s early 2000’s, Snoop Dogg and The Eastsidaz, the phenom that is 50 Cent and his “Get Rich or Die Trying” début album. 50 also served as a mentor and G Unit label exec to his Compton, CA protegé The Game, gangsta rap had clearly seen it’s better days and as a whole, the “West Coast” was no longer controlling a large market share in rap music. Some say the official date of death for gangsta rap was September 11th, 2007 a day that saw 50 Cent one of the last gangsta rappers go up against Kanye West and the new school of rap, that displayed a less or non-violent approach and focused more on fashion and art. 50 had promised to defeat Ye when the album sales for their respective projects (Curtis/Graduation) were tallied, but to 50’s and a lot of people’s surprise Kanye won that battle with a huge margin of victory, thus marking the end of gangsta rap. Or at least we thought.
“Pt.2 Thursday, July 26th”