The Best West Coast Rappers

Over 23.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best West Coast Rappers

The golden age of hip hop is often associated with the East Coast - however, that doesn't mean that West Coast rappers were slouches. In fact, West Coast rap took the world by storm when it first rose to commercial and critical prominence at the end of the 1980s. Fierce and funky, West Coast rap was defined by lyrics that drew attention to the realities of west side street violence and drugs that not only caught on in the underground, but also achieved widespread acclaim as well. Mostly through the prolific work of California rappers, West Coast rap inspired a new sound and a new generation of West Coast rappers who continue to abide by the ethos set forth by the genre's initial artists.

So, who are the best West Coast rappers? Any respectable West Coast rappers list has to include legends like Tupac Shakur, members of N.W.A., (Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre), Snoop Dogg, Mac Dre, Warren G, Nate Dogg, and more recently, Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q. No matter how you cut it, West Coast rappers dramatically shaped how pop music sounds, even if that wasn't initial intention. West Coast rap is a powerful, important genre that remains widely respect in the pantheon of music history.

It's up to you to determine who this list will recognize as the best West Coast artists. If you notice anyone missing from this list and should be included, feel free to add them. If you know West Coast hip hop, feel free to chime in with your vote. This list answers the questions "who are the best West Coast hip hop bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest West Coast rappers ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular west coast hip hop musicians that you might've heard of. 

Most divisive: MC Hammer
Ranked by
  • Tupac Shakur
    13,802 votes

    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the late Tupac Shakur had an unparalleled impact on hip hop and the music industry as a whole. From the raw emotion in his voice to the powerful messages in tracks like "Brenda's Got a Baby" and "Keep Ya Head Up," Shakur created a movement that transcended generations. His lyrical prowess mixed with his charismatic personality cemented him as a trailblazer in the world of West Coast rap. A true icon, Tupac's legacy continues to inspire and influence artists today.

  • N.W.A
    7,711 votes

    When discussing groundbreaking hip hop groups, it's impossible not to mention N.W.A. Composed of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, the group's unapologetic and socially aware lyrics illustrated the harsh reality of life on the streets of Compton, California. With their pivotal album Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A arguably laid the foundation for the gangsta rap genre. Their audacious approach to tackling social issues and vivid storytelling helped shape the landscape for future West Coast artists.

  • Eazy-E
    5,734 votes

    As one of the founding members of N.W.A, Eazy-E played a monumental role in the development of West Coast rap. His distinctive high-pitched, raspy voice and gritty storytelling made him stand out from the pack. Even after his departure from N.W.A, Eazy-E continued to make waves in the industry with his solo work, proving his versatility and ability to captivate audiences on his own. Tragically, his life was cut short at the age of 31, but his indelible mark on rap will always be remembered.

  • Snoop Dogg
    10,060 votes

    With his laid-back demeanor and smooth flow, Snoop Dogg has solidified his status as a West Coast rap legend. Bursting onto the scene with his debut album Doggystyle, Snoop quickly became a household name due in part to his affiliation with Dr. Dre and his unique style. He's also known for effortlessly infusing elements of funk into his music, showcasing his versatility as an artist. Over the course of his long and storied career, Snoop Dogg has remained a prominent figure in the rap game, consistently releasing hits and collaborating with a wide range of artists from various genres.

  • Ice Cube
    10,459 votes

    Starting off as a member of N.W.A, Ice Cube quickly established himself as one of the most formidable lyricists in the game. His ability to relentlessly tackle social and political issues through his music, in tracks like "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted," left a lasting impact on the West Coast hip hop scene. Aside from his music, Ice Cube has also made a name for himself in the world of film and television, further solidifying his status as a powerhouse in the entertainment industry. With his impressive body of work and never-ending drive, Ice Cube continues to inspire and create, remaining relevant through the years.

  • Dr. Dre
    9,557 votes

    As both a rapper and a producer, Dr. Dre has been an influential force in West Coast rap since his days with N.W.A. His keen ear for talent helped launch the careers of numerous artists, including Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Dre's groundbreaking album The Chronic introduced the world to the G-funk sound, combining heavy basslines, synth melodies, and slow grooves—a signature style that set the standard for West Coast hip hop. Continually pushing boundaries, Dr. Dre's mastery of the craft and entrepreneurial spirit have earned him legendary status in the rap world.