Now in paperback, ORIGINAL GANGSTAS is the acclaimed definitive history of West Coast hip-hop, revealing how a cohort of then-unknown rappers, including Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur, grappled with crime, drugs, gangs, bad cops, and racial tension to create the defining music movement of a generation.
In the late 80s, a group of high school dropouts, drug dealers, and ex-cons spoke out against racial injustice and police brutality. They did it through hip-hop. Their explosive popularity put their Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton on the map. They gave a voice to disenfranchised African Americans across the country. And they quickly redefined pop culture across the world. Their names remain as popular as ever--Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur.
Music journalist Ben Westhoff shows how this group of artists shifted the balance of hip-hop from New York to Los Angeles. He shows how N.W.A.'s shocking success lead to rivalries between members, record labels, and eventually an all-out war between East Coast and West Coast rappers. In the process, hip-hop burst into mainstream America at a time of immense social change, and became the most dominant musical movement of the last thirty years. At gangsta rap's peak, two of its biggest names--Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls--would be murdered, and the surviving superstars would have to make peace before their music collapsed in its own violence.
Exhaustively reported and masterfully written, ORIGINAL GANGSTAS is a monumental work of music history that will offer news-making stories about a legendary group of artists, some living, some dead.
Scrupulously researched with many incisive revelations, this may be the best book ever written about the hip hop world. - S. Leigh Savidge, Academy Award nominee and co-writer of Straight Outta Compton
[Adds] fresh detail to the oft-told stories ...[A] history that won't settle for easy heroes or villains. - Rolling Stone
[A] captivating chronicle... Central to Westhoff's research are original interviews with key figures balanced with the author's efforts to frame the music as a piece with the surrounding social and political upheaval... He doesn't flinch in providing a rounded picture of the history of the genre, in which the danger wasn't confined to the music - Library Journal