Incorporated in 1888, the city of Compton (pop. 96,455) has produced a notable volume of hip hop visionaries since the genre’s rise in the 1980s.
So many that the rapper known as Problem has long believed Rosecrans Avenue needs a walk of fame to highlight the city’s many achievements.
Asked who would be on that list, he thought for a second. “Man, music-wise you can go, Dr. Dre, Kendrick [Lamar], Eazy-E, MC Eiht, DJ Quik, MC Ren — that’s just the era I know.” After moving to actors, athletes and politicians, he paused. “Myself,” he added, laughing. “I want to be on it!”
Below, ten rap artists whose names deserve to be permanently written in stone.
Arabian Prince. A founding member of N.W.A who helped define the computerized tones of electro, Arabian Prince (Kim Nazel) issued seminal L.A. tracks that remain fresh decades later.
Dr. Dre. Billionaire born Andre Young. Icon. Kingpin of an empire. Founding member of N.W.A.
DJ Quik. Starting with his classic 1991 album “Quik is the Name,” the artist born David Blake has never earned as much ink or bank as Dr. Dre, but no one has done it any better for any longer.
Eazy-E. Born Eric Wright, the late Ruthless Records kingpin and N.W.A cofounder casts a wide shadow over every Compton artist who dares to self-identify as a rapper.
The Game. One of they city’s most successful voices of the ‘00s has been a Compton tour guide since he ditched his birth name Jayceon Taylor and turned himself into The Game.
Kendrick Lamar. The most acclaimed rapper of his generation has over the past decade made Compton the backdrop for his poetic dramas, bringing vividly to life his experiences growing up in the community.
MC Eiht. The co-founder of Compton’s Most Wanted has been a crucial chronicler of the area for three decades. Born Aaron Turner, since going solo with “We Come Strapped,” he’s worked with Lamar, Snoop, King Tee and dozens more.
Problem. At 32, he’s already earned a star at Tom’s Jr. The rapper born Jason Martin has represented his city in nearly every verse on his dozen mixtapes, solo effort and DJ Quik collaboration, “Rosecrans.”
YG. The king of the clubs, YG has over the past five years risen to become the biggest L.A. rapper not named Kendrick. Best known for his incendiary, unprintable protest song against the president, “F.D.T.”
Yo-Yo. The token female rapper on the list. While Compton’s rap scene has been male dominated, Yo-Yo (Yolanda Whitaker) has delivered fierce, righteous, commercially successful and critically acclaimed verbiage since around 1990.