Toppa Top 10: Raggamuffin Gangster Rap

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Words by Jesse Serwer—

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Back when Shabba and Super Cat were killing the game in the early ’90s, the influence of dancehall could be felt throughout hip-hop. While East Coast rappers with Caribbean backgrounds like KRS-One and Heavy D collaborated with dancehall’s heavyweights themselves, artists from the West Coast—where the connections to Jamaica were less apparent—had to get a little more creative. Hence, the faux raggamuffin deejay styles on records by NWA, DJ Quik and other gangster rap acts of the day.

Recently, Schoolboy Q of Kendrick Lamar’s TDE crew—the current vanguard of L.A. rap— dropped a new track called “Banger” that got us thinking about this era all over again. Although, Q’s not exactly making gangster rap, he’s an heir to his city’s traditions, and “Banger”—with its faux deejaying (“Biddy-bye-bye”!) over a vintage reggae sample—definitely sounds like a tribute to those NWA joints from back in the day. So much so it got us thinking about some of our favorite raggamuffin tunes from the gangster rap era. Read our pics for the Top 10 here.

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