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  • Original Gangstas

  • The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap
  • By: Ben Westhoff
  • Narrated by: J.D. Jackson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (161 ratings)

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Original Gangstas cover art

Original Gangstas

By: Ben Westhoff
Narrated by: J.D. Jackson
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Summary

"Raw, authoritative, and unflinching ... An elaborately detailed, darkly surprising, definitive history of the LA gangsta rap era."—Kirkus, starred review

A monumental, revealing narrative history about the legendary group of artists at the forefront of West Coast hip-hop: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur.

Amid rising gang violence, the crack epidemic, and police brutality, a group of unlikely voices cut through the chaos of late 1980s Los Angeles: N.W.A. Led by a drug dealer, a glammed-up producer, and a high school kid, N.W.A. gave voice to disenfranchised African Americans across the country. And they quickly redefined pop culture across the world.

Their names remain as popular as ever: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Dre soon joined forces with Suge Knight to create the combustible Death Row Records, which in turn transformed Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur into superstars.

Ben Westhoff explores how this group of artists shifted the balance of hip-hop from New York to Los Angeles. He shows how N.W.A.'s shocking success lead to rivalries between members, record labels, and eventually a war between East Coast and West Coast factions. In the process, hip-hop burst into mainstream America at a time of immense social change, and became the most dominant musical movement of the last thirty years. At gangsta rap's peak, two of its biggest names—Tupac and Biggie Smalls—were murdered, leaving the surviving artists to forge peace before the genre annihilated itself.

Featuring extensive investigative reporting, interviews with the principal players, and dozens of never-before-told stories, Original Gangstas is a groundbreaking addition to the history of popular music.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2016 Ben Westhoff (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"I trust Ben Westhoff. I trust him to report a story and I trust him to tell a story, and that's exactly what he's done here in Original Gangstas. He's taken what's always felt like an almost impossibly knotted string of storylines and plot points in gangsta rap, the most turbulent version of the most popular music on the planet, and turned them into an airtight and unflinching book. Original Gangstas is as resolute as the people and ideas it sets out to profile, and that is no small feat."—Shea Serrano, New York Times bestselling author of The Rap Year Book

"Scrupulously researched with many incisive revelations, this may be the best book ever written about the hip hop world."—S. Leigh Savidge, Academy Award nominee and co-writer of Straight Outta Compton

"A provocative, multifaceted portrait of essential rap pioneers who ushered the hip-hop music scene to greatness.... As raw, authoritative, and unflinching as the music his narrative chronicles, Westhoff comprehensively uncovers the factual roots of the gangsta rap movement and admirably credits those whose footprints paved the way for the younger rappers emerging today.... An elaborately detailed, darkly surprising, definitive history of the LA gangsta rap era."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

What listeners say about Original Gangstas

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Possibily the most well-researched book I've read

Ben Westhoff manages to present two decades (and more) worth of testinmonies, inside storys, interviews and lives into a staggeringly detailed and engrossing timeline of the emergence, rise and fall of gangsta rap in South Central Los Angeles and beyond.

This isn't just 'the inside story', this is 'inside the inside story', with details that not even the most ardent of hip-hop fan would know about.

Charting the details of many players including Ice Cube, Dr Dre, Eazy E, Tupac Shakur, Suge Knight and hundreds of other rappers, lawyers, personalities, hangers-on and money-grabbers.

I don't think I will read another book as well-researched, engrossing, captivating and historically accurate as this book.

In my experience, the best narrators give you the story without adding their distracting flair, and JD Jackson provides exactly that, with a few attempts at impressions during quotes which add a bit of variety to the narrative.

A MUST-READ for anyone with even the a vague interest in rap and hip-hop.

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This is the absolute best breakdown of the history of gangsta rap.

This book from the perspective of myself who is around for the early years I am now in my mid 30s, but grew up in the 90s

What I highly recommend doing is as each song track et cetera it’s mentioned refer yourself to Spotify or Apple Music for the briefest Moment and listen to that song before continuing the book. It extends upon and brings immense detail into the story and the things that are referenced.

I have learned a great deal upon this lesson I would highly recommend it to anyone who are not only fans of the fathers of the genre but to simply those who want to understand more about these days of the music industry.

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Very informative and interesting

Really enjoyed this audiobook, it seems very well researched and have a good insight into the history of west coast hip hop

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Very enjoyable read

I'm a big hip hop fan and over the years have picked up a fair amount of knowledge about this era. However, this was still a very good listen and such a well researched and well written book. Very much caught the characters, the context and the real heart and soul of these times. Brought back some great memories and some sad heartbreaks.

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gangsta rap

huge NWA and 2pac fan, really enjoyed this book, very well done. RIP Eazy E and 2pac, died way too young, you are missed very much

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Enjoyable listen

As much as some of what’s in this book is already public knowledge, the author reveals some stuff that is unknown which is good. It’s well read and keeps you involved in the story.

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Great 👍🏼

This really was interesting and made me want to listen to more as the story progressed.The most interesting for me was the section on 2Pac👍🏼

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really good read

This book is first rate informative, insightful and, as strangely as it may sound given the subject matter, an enjoyable to read.

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By far the best book, covering every angle of the genre, and the best history lesson I have had on the subject!!!

As a teenager growing up just outside London, UK, I still remember my mate playing me this tape he said I had to here. Ice T, that was my introduction and I was instantly hooked and still am too this day. The book gives just the right amount of detail on every subject it covers and taught me so many things I didn’t know on the WHOLE story. 35 years later from my first listen to ICE T, I am still a huge fan of all forms of Rap and Hip Hop, across the board.

This has rubbed off on my son fortunately and as soon as Straight out of Compton was released at the cinema, we went and watched it together!

The book is a solid 10/10
Also. I listened via Audible and a note of respect to the narrator, as well as the author and anyone involved behind the scenes, fantastic work.

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amazing story and amazingly detailed.

A must for any hip hop enthusiast!!!
so many details and stories you wouldn't imagine

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