East Coast hip-hop is a subgenre of hip-hop music originating in New York during the 1970s. East Coast hip-hop only became a distinct subgenre after artists from other regions of the US used different styles. In contrast to those styles, East Coast hip-hop is remembered for its use of complex lyrics and aggressive beats.
The aggressive beats were first emphasized in the '80s and '90s by EPMD, Public Enemy, and The Beastie Boys, while artists such as Eric B and Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, and Big Daddy Kane were noted for their complex lyricism. In the early '90s, G-Funk and West Coast hip-hop dominated the mainstream, prompting the East Coast to introduce rappers such as Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and the Notorious B.I.G. to become part of the “East revival.”
In the mid-'90s, The Notorious B.I.G. became the East Coast's biggest rap figure. His success on the charts drew more attention to New York at the time of West Coast's hip-hop dominance. Many saw Biggie's rise as a factor in the East Coast / West Coast hip-hop “war,” ending with Biggie's fatal shooting in 1997, six months after an eerily similar murder of his West Coast nemesis, Tupac Shakur.