Tale of the Tape | "East Coast West Coast Killas" ft. RBX, KRS-One, B-Real, and Nas
We’ll be revisiting “East Coast West Coast Killas,” a classic collaborative effort from ‘Dr. Dre Presents… The Aftermath.’
In hip hop, fans and critics often marvel at and put a premium on the supreme soloists or groups who can craft classic songs and bodies of work while remaining the central figure. However, the most electric moments in the culture occur when multiple emcees collaborate on a track with the sole purpose of asserting themselves as the most lyrically gifted by delivering an epic rhyme spill that outclasses the others. Throughout the years, the songs — which are generally referred to as “posse-cuts” — have become some of the most memorable in the genre’s history, as rap’s most legendary stars team up on wax and bringing the most rabid of rap fans’ fantasies to reality.
In celebration of these historic songs and what they mean to the culture, REVOLT presents: Tale of the Tape, our series in which we break down the greatest posse cuts of all-time and rank the verses from worst to first.
In our latest installment of the series, we’ll be revisiting “East Coast West Coast Killas,” a classic collaborative effort from Dr. Dre Presents… The Aftermath. In 1996, after four years of helping transform Death Row Records from a fledgling label into an industry powerhouse, Dr. Dre decided to cut ties with the label due to its toxic working environment. Looking to start anew, the producer launched Aftermath Entertainment with the label’s first release being a compilation showcasing its talent roster.
Released in November 1996, Dr. Dre Presents… The Aftermath achieved platinum status, but was considered a disappointment when compared with Dre’s previous work. However, one bright spot that deserves to be celebrated is “East Coast West Coast Killas,” the compilation’s lead single and one that saw the boardsman bringing together some of rap’s heaviest hitters. Arriving during the tail-end of the feud between the east and west coasts; this posse-cut features RBX, KRS-One, B-Real, and Nas joining forces with the intention of squashing the beef and creating unity on both sides.
Without further adieu, check out a ranking of the verses on “East Coast West Coast Killas” below.
B-Real is universally regarded as a pillar in the Los Angeles hip hop community. This gave the Cypress Hill frontman the credibility to jump on this track and speak his piece on behalf of the west coast. Promoting solidarity among artists from both sides of the country, B-Real attempts to relax the tension that was brewing in rap at the time. But, he gets the short end of the stick when his verse is compared against the other MCs.
Standout Lyrics: “I got crews on both sides together/Deeper than the ocean and down for whatever/Fool I can roll through any block/From Central to Westland Avenue, without my Glock/But some niggas can’t survive on both sides/So they try and break off, eliminate ties/Fools got to get wise, better realize/True, enemy lies, chillin in the high-rise.”
Death Row Records refugee RBX reunites with Dre on this fiery composition, which finds the lyricist rising to the occasion, while testing his mettle against elite competition. Employing his animated delivery, while spewing complex couplets, RBX turns in a surgical performance that is indicative of his raw talent. Far from a pedestrian showing, RBX’s air-time is captivating, but not enough to outshine his collaborators.
Standout Lyrics: “While childish MC’s battle over coastal fronts/I come with no fronts and smash in monkey fronts/If you want to be evil like Knieval then jump/I guarantee your punk ass catch the speed lump/The tactics, extract, morbid thoughts from the mental/Custom designed, for instrumental/Yes indeedy, lyrical graffiti/And this one’s a burner, baby.”
KRS-One lives up to his moniker the “Teacha” with his appearance on this track, as the Bronx native gives fraudulent toughs a lecture about their lack of substance, credibility and skill. From the instant his voice touches the track, KRS-One attacks the instrumental with the fervor of a man possessed, blowing listeners away with his sheer tenacity and bombast. Turning in an unbridled stanza that hits all the benchmarks, KRS nearly steals the show. But, the spoils of victory ultimately gets snatched from his clutches.
Standout Lyrics: “Here come the philosopher Hip-Hopppin ya correctly/Ignorant ass MC’s continue to tempt me/Lyrics be empty like Alcatraz cellblock/Too many MC’s rappin causin lyrical gridlock/Lyrical syllables interlock in my voice box/Yet I’m still unknown like the X on Sadat/Just your typical, non-topical/Flex the optical illusion weak metaphoric style you be using.”
The year 1996 was a pivotal year for Nas, who eclipsed the ceiling of the underground to ascend into stardom with his sophomore album, It Was Written. Picking up where he left off on the Dre produced track “Nas Is Coming,” the QB poet gets cerebral, laying down a set of bars that takes listeners to a whole other realm. Tagged as the final boss, Nas closes out the proceedings with the precision of an assassin, besting all comers while adding another lyrical kill to his prestigious resume.
Standout Lyrics: “Now when I bomb like Sadaam, the world feels The Wrath of Khan/Desert Storm in this modern day Babylon/I be the twelve disciples strap arms/All black on running your spot hit the safe and I’m gone/Like a thief wrong, I keep the long 38 warm/Silent and calm, and blackout when the beef is on/Focus on your rap holsters, notice/I’m evil like the Exorcist to the locusts.”
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