As an L.A. native, it hurts to see the West Coast in such a commercial slump. We here on the Pacific side of thangs have certainly seen our hiphop stocks plunge since the glory days of NWA, Death Row, and the late, great Makaveli. There are consistently new artists coming out of the Dirty South, the Midwest, and New York, selling mad records and repping their respective regions to the fullest. However, if we're talking units sold, our beloved "Weeeessyde" is being chiefly represented by its elder statesmen: Ice Cube (once my favorite MC, period), who should just gracefully bow out of the rap game and keep on infiltrating Hollywood; Dr. Dre, who allegedly isn't even trying to drop another album, content to be the driving force behind the not-really-West-Coast-anymore Aftermath label; and Snoop Dogg, who, while still fairly solid, has been coasting by on personality and subpar rhymes since, in my humble opinion, Tha Doggfather--which came out damn near a decade ago. Now, I'm talking about the commercial "West Coast," not the indies like Stones Throw and Hieroglyphics, and certainly not the platinum-in-the-street entrepreneurs from the Bay and Sacramento like E-40 and Brotha Lynch Hung--seeing as crossover success is kinda anathema to those respective movements anyway (with the possible exception of the legendary Too $hort).

These days, there's a whole lotta talk about how someone needs to "resurrect the West"; but who's up to the task? The 213 (Snoop, Nate Dogg, and Warren G) album could've done it--if it had come out in, say, 1996. Ras Kass--a brilliant MC--is in jail and hasn't made a cohesive album yet. No, somehow, the top contender these days is the Game, the Compton-reared Blood signed to Aftermath/G-Unit (as part of 50 Cent's Hands-Across-America staffing policy). The brother has a hellafied buzz for not dropping an album yet, and I'm curious to see what homie comes with this fall; judging by his material so far, one can expect classic gangsta topics spit with a heavy East Coast influence. I'm sure he'll do well strictly off of the star power backing him and his streets-certified bio (crack dealer, shot five times) but somehow dude doesn't wow me as an MC; he sort of reminds me of a clunkier, less punch-liney Jadakiss. Look, you can call me a hater--but I know what I like and I refuse to just blindly accept industry hype as gospel.

That said, I guess I still wish Xzibit would just drop a brilliant album; he has lyrics, passion, and delivery in spades--and isn't afraid to show a human side. However, his seeming lack of focus, not to mention proper promotion, has already sabotaged him a couple times now. I'm quite interested in what his Strong Arm Steady click (consisting of him, Phil Da Agony, Krondon, and San Diego's Mitchy Slick) comes out with--if they do at all; anyone remember the Golden State Project?

hiphop@thestranger.com

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