WILD WILD WEST: The Historically Outrageous West Coast Figures of Our Time

Editor’s Note: AllHipHop.com is all about the Wild, Wild West! This month, we’re profiling the prolific impact that the country’s left-hand side has had on Hip-Hop music and culture. There’s something distinctly different and wonderful about West Coast rap and the characters who have held it down over the years.

For sure, the West Coast has spawned some of the most controversial, headline-grabbing characters in Hip-Hop. Check out our sampling of some of the most prolific West Coast Wild Boys ever:

Quite possibly one of the most iconic figures of our time, Tupac Amaru Shakur remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time, even more than a decade after his death. Tupac was outlandish in his music and career, as well as his personal life—his legal problems were the stuff of legend. A critical part of the violent East Coast/West Coast rivalry which irrevocably fractured the Hip-Hop generation, Shakur is still considered one of the most inspirational and influential artists of our time. He even got his own port-mortem Hologram at this year’s Coachella Festival.

Eazy E

Considered the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap,” Eric “Eazy-E” Wright was the founder of the legendary West Coast rap group, NWA. Frequently villianized for their anti-police lyrics, NWA crafted the classic songs “Boyz-n-the-Hood”, “100 Miles and Runnin’”, and “F*ck the Police,” with the latter widely-considered as one of Hip-Hop’s most significant protest songs against police violence. Despite the break-up of NWA, Eazy-E went on to produce Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, one of the best-selling rap groups of all time. Eazy died in March of 1995 due to complications from AIDS, putting a face on the disease for the Hip-Hop generation for the first time. He may rise again via his son’s role as him in an upcoming NWA biopic.


His 1987 song, “6 ‘N the Mornin’”, remains of Hip-Hop’s greatest gangsta rap songs. The Rhyme Pays album was the first hip-hop album to ever have a parental advisory sticker, soon to be synonymous with rap albums. Ice-T was and is still known for his cautionary storytelling style. A critically-acclaimed actor, Ice-T has been featured in dozens of films and television programs, as well as been a voice actor for video games. His directorial debut documentary film, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, was released in July to high praise.

Too Short

With a 30-year career, Todd Anthony Shaw, a.k.a. Too Short, put Oakland, California on the map with his raunchy rap lyrics and classic collaborations. His debut album, Born to Mack, is considered one of Hip-Hop’s greatest albums and the origination of “h*e flows,” songs all about sex. In 2006, the album and title single, Blow The Whistle, brought about a resurgence in Too Short’s career. He has also appeared in the 1993 film, Menace II Society, as well as several documentaries. Most recently, Too Short has dodged the bad PR bullet over some risque’ advice he offered to young boys via XXL.

Suge Knight

The former CEO of Death Row Records became infamous after the 1995 Source Awards where Knight invited, “Anyone out there who wanna be a recording artist and wanna stay a star, but don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing, come to Death Row.” Ouch. At the time, it wasn’t hard to point to Sean “Puffy” Combs as the target of his verbal shots fired.

Knight signed 2 Pac to Death Row after bailing the star out of a New York prison with a briefcase full of cash. Shakur’s signing to the label helped spark the official beginning of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry, which ultimately contributed to the deaths of both Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. After the murders, Knight was imprisoned for a parole violation and spent nearly five years in jail. Knight’s reputation as one of the most intimidating figures in Hip-Hop has largely been tarnished by public fights, shootings, and a bankruptcy claim.

Freeway Ricky Ross

Freeway Ricky Ross

Often credited with inventing the cocaine derivative known as “crack,” Freeway Ricky Ross became a legend by generating an estimated $600 million in crack rock sales starting in Los Angeles and spreading East. Ross was also instrumental in exposing the role that the CIA had in trafficking cocaine into the U.S. through his connection to a Nicaraguan drug dealer, later-turned DEA agent. Freeway Ricky Ross is currently locked in a trademark infringement lawsuit with rapper Rick Ross over the use of his name. He recently won a hearing against Warner Bros. and is preceding forward to trial against Warner and deposing Sean Combs and Lyor Cohen.

  • Sosa_Limone

    freeway ricky ross has no place in this article… he has nothing to do with hip-hop unless your tryint to associate crack/drug dealing with hip-hop which is an insult to the culture and very ignorant. What about Doctor Dre?? almost every west coast rapper in the past 20 years has been produced and/or mentored by dre (daz, kurupt, game, snoop, xzibit, nwa, tupac, nate dogg, ice cube/nwa, the lsit can go on for a while, he also brought major acts like Eminem and 50, which brought pple like obie trice, royce, and g-unit)…def a major fail having freeway ricky over dre… also what about nate dogg (RIP)… his voice was soo original and it really captures teh whole west coast hip-hop movement and help give it commercial success. … like ice cube said “nate doggs singing the hook, so you know its gonna be a classic”…

    • brotha_man

      thats what happens when a certain rapper glorifies the life of another person…he will always be connected to hiphop, and its not his fault

    • Blackstallion777

      The article was for the “Most Outrageous” not the most influential. Freeway Rick Ross might not have been a rapper or even involved in the music industry but the Cocaine trade that swept through L.A. in the 80’s heavily effected the life of many Los Angeles rappers.

  • mike h

    the story said outrageous west coast figures. read again.

  • imaman2012

    Cube shouldv’e been on this list.

    he took on everyone from Koreans, jews, the police, east coast media basis.

    and firmly put his foot on the movie industry.

    • hoeyuno

      Cube is definitely a gangster rap and west coast pioneer but he wasn’t outrageous like this list. Cube just did a interview at hot 97 with ciph and rosenberg and it’s probably the best hip hop interview I have ever heard

      • imaman2012

        ‘most controversial, headline-grabbing characters…’

        cube was not this late 80’s late 90’s.

        when the riots happened… ‘black korea’ before it jumped off then after with ‘wicked’

        calvin butts
        boyz in the hood

        just few headlines he made. cube was top 5 controversial on both coast and the south during the 80’s/90’s

        I’m sticking with my post and say cube should’ve been included.

        ‘cant be nigs for life with a white jew, telling you what to do’..

        man, with that song. nwa fell apart soon after.

  • Another BS article about nothing. East Vs. West had nothing to do with the deaths of 2Pac & Biggie. 2Pac said it in plenty of interviews for the journalist to make money. 2Pac was telling the game about the elite on the government, president, politics etc. He was assassinated for trying to tell us strings are being pulled by the Committee of 300.

    • TruthSerum

      2pac was assassinated for starting a fight with a crip in a casino, get outta here with all that Illuminati nonsense, you sound like a nut job, like one of those toothless crackheads screaming bible passages at me on the street at 4 in the morning when I’m leaving the bar….

      If I start a fight with a gang member in a casino, beat the dude bloody and get killed in a drive bye shooting 2 hours later, it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened

      Pac was my favorite rapper but people are delusional when it comes to him. He died in the streets at the hand of a gang member, nothing more, nothing less…. No Suge Knight, No Puffy, No “Evil White Man’s Illuminati”……. It was a crip named orlando anderson who didnt appreciate gettin stomped out at the tyson fight that finished pac off

      • True….didn’t like the way you put it, well, the toothless crackhead part was funny, but, yeah, basically what you said about Baby ‘Lane!

    • RBG4Life

      Non believers see the youtube vid “Tupac: Breaking The Oath” and before you condemn because its a vid from there, watch it in its entirety because the research on there from John Potash is very THOROUGH. Everything aint always what it seems. The older I become the more I realize none of it is what it seems, peace.

  • steveakers

    THIS ARTICLE ISNT ABOUT HIPHOP READ THE TITLE BEFORE LEAVING COMMENTS Sosa_Limone should read the title before commenting. You sound ignorant.

    “The Historically Outrageous West Coast Figures of Our Time” Rick Ross has had more social impact than most of these figures. I do think Dr Dre and Snoop should have been included over Short.

  • “He even got his own port-mortem Hologram at this year’s Coachella Festival.”

    It’s “POST” / After
    Mortem = Death

    Port = Door & ‘Pac was from the Bronx!
    Spent some time in Queens & picked up a few bad habits <> at Montezuma
    >>Looks around for / while ducking Monte’s return fire:

    Gotta duck Monte’s return fire, ‘dem ‘chets all be hitting center mass!

  • hoeyuno

    Good list. Eazys “eazy duz it” was the first gangster rap tape I ever had. My neighbor dubbed over my young mc tape with it.

  • hoeyuno

    E-40 and snoop could be on this list

    • Bumpy Johnson

      snoop lion..no please.

  • Bumpy Johnson

    This list should be Easy E, Ice Cube, 2 pac and Suge knight

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  • martymar93

    What bout ice cube,Nate Dogg, doctor dre and snoop dog smh


    Sosa_Limone • 2 days ago

    freeway ricky ross has no place in this article<-=——RIGHT?!?!?!?!

  • Lewis Cmw Gilly

    mc eiht ice cube dr dre and snoop dogg should be on this list

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