adj.1. Not recognized, as to quality or worth: an unappreciated gesture of good will.2. Not having risen in price or value: an unappreciated investment.
For many years the left coast got overlooked as a whole, then came the early 90s and shit just hasn’t been the same for gangstas. While the Death Row/Aftermath era stole a little mojo from the eastcoast, there were still many westcoast lyricists who never quite got their proper due. There also has been an abundance of artists who never even got a chance that shine like the amazing Bad N Fluenz click featuring Rappin’ Ron and Ant Diddly Dog, The B.U.M.S. or Project Blowed‘s The Nonce.
My criteria for this list is simple. You’ve had a respectable career. That means less than just three studio album. It means you’re still active (to an extent), though Mac Dre would have been an exception. It also means you’ve had to carried some influence or have done some really impressive work, be it on your own albums or others. Also, you can’t have blemished your career much. This list is who I feel are the most unappreciated, not most underrated from a lyrical standpoint. Because that’s another list which features the likes of Kurupt, Boots Riley, Brotha Lynch Hung, Saafir, Planet Asia and probably Mac Mall. This list, like all of them, is subjective but I encourage you to explore it and even come up with your own list of the 10 most unappreciated westcoast rappers of all-time.
10 Most Unappreciated Westcoast Rappers of All-Time
Tee has always been the Bernard King of hip-hop. The man has been doing it since ’88 with that deep voice and that O.G. narrative style. None are cooler, more likeable and unfortunate than King Tee. Having had his fair share of adversity, Tee never quite gained the props he rightfully deserved. And who can forget that whole Aftermath disaster that pretty much froze his career in carbonite. Tee has had an impressive catalog starting with Act a Fool and ending with The Kingdom Come. From being a benefactor to the Likwit Foundation that spawned the careers of Tash, J-Ro, Xzibit and Defari to name a few. To influencing not just one coast, but both coasts. Even Ice T has gone on record saying King Tee was Biggie’s favorite emcee too. There are many rappers who never got the recognition they deserved, but none more than the great Roger McBride.
10 albums deep if you’re including all collabos and of course the Maad Circle releases, which consisted of Sir Jinx, Coolio and DJ Crazy Toones. But much like Guru, he was really the only rapper on those releases even though his official studio album The Shadiest One didn’t drop until ’98. Whether he made you throw up the W, bow down or had you attempting to c-walk in front of your mirror while nobody was watching, WC has put in 25 years of work that shouldn’t go unnoticed — yet it does.
4. Andre Nickatina
Whether you know him as Dre Dog or Andre Nickatina, the important thing is that you know him. A true pioneer in the independent game, he dropped The New Jim Jones in 1993 and followed up with I Hate You With a Passion in 1995. His later work like Raven In My Eyes or the more recent Khan! The Me Generation is further proof he still has it. Dre revolutionized cocaine raps with wit, charm and humor. Whether it was the Daiquiri Factory or he got you yelling out “in my rap world, we bump 75 girls/playboy short, right before court,” there is nobody quite like Nickatina and there may never be.
The Hieroglyphics are responsible for many great albums, but none greater than Fear Itself. Casual, whom I think is a lot like an eastcoast lyricist with a westcoast mentality, has one of the most unique voices and styles to ever come out of Oaktown. Since his ’94 release he has gone on to release 8 other projects, He Think He Raw, Smash Rockwell, The Hierophant and most recently the Jake One produced Return of The Backpack being the most notable ones. While he isn’t considered the #1 player on his squad, he is without a doubt their best talent and still capable of great things.
Freestyle Fellowship is one of those groups you either love or hate, there is little in between. It’s a shame because both To Whom It May Concern… and Innercity Griots have some remarkable music on them, but the lead talent, Aceyalone found his way to Capitol Records and released his debut All Balls Don’t Bounce. Again, you kind of love him or hate him, but Aceyalone has always marched to the beat of his own drum. 10 solo release and counting, Aceyalone is a true underground legend. I may not particularly love his recent work, but I can’t simply cannot dismiss his priors either. He is one of the few in my opinion, to have three consecutive albums that sound very different, but still equally dope and innovating too. All Balls Don’t Bounce, A Book of Human Language and Accepted Eclectic is a trifecta in my book.
How many rappers can say they’ve sold over 3 millions records independently? C-Bo can. He and E-40 were instrumental in that whole movement and regardless if you’re familiar with his work, just know he is loved and respected by some of your favorites, 2pac all the way to Kool Keith. Best known for his mid 90’s work, I have always felt C-Bo peaked on Blocc Movement, a collabo album with Brotha Lynch Hung.
9. Jayo Felony
Here is what most people know of Jayo. He was once signed to Jam Master Jay’s label. He had that “Whatcha Gonna Do?” single around that Survival of The Illest era, and he of course took shots at Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and completely dismantled Jamie Foxx on LL’s “U Can’t Fuck With Me.” He is no stranger to controversy to say the least. But Bullet Loco has a style that is identical to none. His energy levels parallel DMX and his delivery has always been dope as fuck.
10. Ras Kass
I’m completely bias because Ras Kass was once my favorite rapper, a rapper I just can’t let go no matter the disappointment I have at times. During ’94-96 you couldn’t find a better lyricist. Nowadays it’s a different Ras Kass. I understand it, we’re older, we all need to put food on the table and the reality is people don’t buy records anymore, let alone those who once bought Soul On Ice or Rassasination. You won’t hear songs like Sonset, you’ll now hear song Sushi.
His fan base these days resembles the likes of Francine Dee more than Diamond D. And his choice in co-workers are sometimes questionable and we all like to forget about that beef with Game, but I can’t stop believing. This list is about the unappreciated and truthfully, I don’t think most people appreciated what Ras Kass did. He is without a doubt one of the smartest, gifted and fascinating lyricists I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, more people know of him today (which is why he is #10) than when he was just another Bob Whitfield investment along side Vooodu and Meen Green. Take Jack Frost, Remain Anonymous, Nature Of The Threat. Soul On Ice (Remix), Goldyn Chyld (Remix), and all those guest features like Ebonic Plaque, Comewiddit, Uni-4-Orm and the slew of those non-album cuts and you got yourself a catalog of one of the greatest to ever do it.