Since hardcore rap feeds off hyperbole, it’s difficult to separate boasts from accomplishments. Is Dr. Dre really the originator of all that the West Coast represents, or is he simply SoCal hip-hop’s shrewdest impresario? His contribution to “Straight Outta Compton,” the 1988 N.W.A. album that defined gangsta rap, was mostly atmosphere. And while he’s credited with boosting P-Funk as a beat template (calling it “G-funk”), he wasn’t the first to do so.

But Dre’s mentorship guarantees attention. Xzibit, a West Coast rapper who toiled in the underground for most of the ’90s, mainly in the company of Tha Alkoholiks, was taken under Dre’s wing on the monumental Up in Smoke Tour 2000, which included other Dre acolytes such as Eminem and Snoop. X-to-the-Z, however, blew his colleagues off the stage with a hardcore style that was more amazing for its naturalness. Not since Ice Cube quit N.W.A. had a West Coast M.C. rapped in his own angry voice with such drama and conviction, and minus the stylistic gimmicks that had become standard since “The Chronic” reconfigured commercial rap.

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