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West Coast hip-hop is a hip-hop subgenre consisting of any artist originating in the West region of the US. West Coast hip-hop is often credited to begin with N.W.A's 1988 debut album, Straight Outta Compton. While West Coast hip-hop's roots trace farther back, Straight Outta Compton was the first California hip-hop album to break into the mainstream, thanks to the controversy surrounding its protest song, “F*** Tha Police.” After N.W.A split in the early '90s, Ice Cube released AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990) and Death Certificate (1991), both platinum-selling albums, and Dr. Dre released his 1992 game-changer, The Chronic.

Other critically acclaimed West Coast albums from this era include Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle (1993) and Tupac's All Eyez On Me (1996), both coming from the West Coast-based label, Death Row Records. In the mid-'90s, a fierce rivalry sparked between Death Row Records and the East Coast-based Bad Boy Records, fronted by Puff Daddy and The Notorious B.I.G. Hip-hop reached a turning point when the West Coast's most popular rapper, Tupac Shakur, was murdered in 1996, and Death Row Records fell apart.

The 1997 death of Tupac's worst enemy, The Notorious B.I.G., ended the East-West feud. The West Coast lost a bit of popularity in the late '90s. Thankfully, a few notable West Coast albums came out after that time: Dr. Dre's Chronic 2001 (1999), The Game's The Documentary (2005), and especially, the music of Kendrick Lamar, crowned “king of the West Coast” in 2011.

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