Even though the peak years of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are almost two decades behind us, the west is still producing some of the best music in Hip-Hop. I can talk about the West’s influence on today’s rap scene forever, but I’m going to focus today on how Dr. Dre still is instrumental in doing so. In 2012, he signed Kendrick Lamar to Aftermath, and in January 2016, he signed Anderson.Paak.
For a city known for it’s sunshine and the highs of hollywood, the music coming out of California revolves around the struggle of inner city life and the violent conflicts that ensue. Anderson.Paak is probably the first West Coast artist in a very long time (other than Odd Future if you count them), that has experienced a commercial break through, without gang violence heavily influencing the content. The first single from Malibu can be heard above, and usually artists aren’t confident enough going without a big feature. His second and third singles featured ScHoolboy Qand The Game respectively, but he was still able to carve out his niche on those tracks and stand out. Prior to his debut project, he was the standout artist (over Kendrick Lamar) on Dr. Dre’s Compton – an album rap fans had been waiting for almost as long as Jay Electronica’s debut.
Out of all the artists featured on this year’s XXL Freshman cover, he’s the only one who can be a legit star in hip-hop. He may not own the clubs like Kodak Black, and Lil Uzi Vert, but with his soul and funk sound, he has the tools to have a lasting impact in the game.