(1995) was released just a few weeks earlier. But while the rap movement was beginning to implode in the mid-1990s, there was more than a passing familiarity with Gangsta Rap on the streets of Seattle in the late ’90s.
At least, that’s the story.
In Seattle, hip hop is more familiar than a lot of other American cities. As a whole, the Seattle rap community has been shaped by the city’s proximity to the Black Sea from its southern border and growing popularity in the 1980s with the emergence of the Bay Area-based Seattle sound. Since then, Seattle’s rap scene has grown steadily. In 1990, the city had a few thousand people in the scene. The latest available estimate is 5,000. Rap acts were more common in 2001 than they had been in 1998.
That was long before gangsta rap began to infiltrate the music of street gangs. Though rappers such as Snoop Dogg, who came to Seattle in the ’90s, still had a hard time landing on the charts. The only other rappers with big hits in the 1990s were Big Sean and 2 Live Crew. In the past 15 years, the hip hop scene has been dominated by a new generation of artists and a few classic names.
“Seattle rap is a bit of a catch all to include all of this underground hip hop but there is a strong local culture which is very visible,” says Jason Nesbitt, who is a musician at Seattle’s The Waverly Lounge.
“Seattle hip hop is more of a collective of different types of musical genres and a lot of that is based on a lot of young people with their own ideas.”
The influence of gangsta rap started before 1994, when Snoop was making the moves that would help define him for life. Before being arrested for shooting to death two boys in his family’s Lakewood home, he was living with two girlfriends in Seattle.
The music he mixed with his rap was street in its brutality and profanity. In his 2002 album, Doggystyle, he called it “rap for people that don’t want to do rap rap.”
“Riding on the back of the wave, Snoop went after the youth and the young males,” says Nesbitt.
That’s not all he did. When an armed robber fired into a Seattle bar on April 6, 1994, Snoop had a gun tucked into the waistband of his pants. He
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