Difference between East Coast and West Coast Rap

If you love hip hop music, you need to know the origin of the music you listen to so that you can differentiate it easily; it also shapes one’s preferences. You get to identify with a particular kind of music if you know where it started, especially if you come from that place or if you share same aspects of life there. For rap lovers, east coast rap and west coast rap is a good way to start.


East Coast Rap vs West Coast Rap
West coast rap originated from the West Coast of the U.S. and mostly features funk samples. In addition, it mainly focuses on the aesthetics of the West Coast as well as creating a laid-back feel.

East coast rap originated from the East Coast of the U.S. and mostly features jazz samples, as well as the use of “aggressive” and “hyper-tense” sound that paints the picture of being constantly under the threat of danger.

Comparison Chart

East Coast Rap West Coast Rap
Features poverty and crime environments Features a gang life or anti-police sentiment environments
Features jazz samples Features funk samples
Hard hitting or aggressive music featuring deejays and MCs Laid back and cool music
Examples of rappers include Nas, Mobb Deep, Gang Starr, and Biggie Examples Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre

East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap

What is the difference between the East Coast and West Coast Rap, then? A closer look at the environment portrayed by the music, the feeling created, and the samples used can easily reveal the differences.

  • West coast rap features funk samples while east coast rap features jazz samples. While west coast sounds more laid back, east coast sounds more lyrical. As a result, west coast rap sounds chill and more musical, its subjects mostly about drugs, racial profiling, police brutality and slang. On the other hand, east coast rap sounds hard hitting, and is played by a lot of MCs and deejays. East coast rap has a lot of wit, wordplay as well as metaphors that are motivated by social, political or just entertainment reasons.
  • These two categories feature their environments in the music, especially life in the major cities of New York vs. Los Angeles. This means that west coast rap evokes a more gang related environment. The music focuses on anti-police lifestyles. Most rappers in the west coast grew up in gang-like life that they are stuck in, and the songs glorify it as a way of making the best out of it, reflecting the emotional aspect of growing up in this environment.
  • On the contrary, east coast rap lays emphasis on a life lived in poverty and crime. The majority of these rappers produce heartfelt lyrical music about their struggle in this environment. East coast rappers portray a tightly knit culture, reflected by their use of slang.