2565 artists, 14111 songs
Run DMC and Public Enemy may have rapped about the gritty reality of street life, but they came from middle class backgrounds. In the late 1980s, a new breed of hardcore hip-hop artists emerged from the rough streets and gangs of South Central Los Angeles. Though Ice-T dabbled with gangsta rap themes on his 1987 debut, NWA defined the gangsta rap genre by presenting a brutally honest picture of violence and crime and celebrating the gang-banger lifestyle. Suge Knight's Death Row Records became the biggest hip-hop label of the mid '90s by focusing exclusively on gangsta rap artists like Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur. The emergence of east coast gangsta rap artists like the Notorious B.I.G., Nas and Mobb Deep led to an East-West rivalry, and the South offered acts like the Geto Boys and Juvenile.