• 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: JD Jackson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 09-15-16
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Hachette Books
  • 5 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

Regular price: $29.65

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Publisher's Summary

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 led to rivalries between members and 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 30 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 reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Ben Westhoff (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Westhoff manages to knit together all the group'soutsized personalities, feuds, fist fights and drama into a stunning and entertaining read.... [His] detailed recounting of the long history of Death Row is required reading even for those who may think they know the story." ( New York Daily News)
"Insightful... Westhoff's history is especially relevant amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement." ( Booklist)
"This is the hip-hop book of the season, and it gives readers a thorough and engaging history of the West coast rap scene." ( Bookish)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent, rap needs more of these!

Would you listen to Original Gangstas again? Why?

Yes I would, there was so much information to absorb, but it was never overbearing. History and facts are abundant

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eazy-E was my first favorite rapper so I suppose you could say he was! Wish there was more on him but Ben did an excellent job of covering him.

Which character – as performed by JD Jackson – was your favorite?

JD did a great job with the reading and I feel like his portrayal of Ice T was the most convincing

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Sure, but I'd probably take breaks to listen to the music the book talks about

Any additional comments?

The only criticism I could levy against this book is that it sometimes jumps ahead of itself, talking about things before they happen (in the context of the book) but otherwise this was a fantastic read and I am most impressed by the writers ability to tie in so many different characters so flawlessly! I've purchased 54 books on audible & this may be the best one yet!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very Informative and well told

Originally I purchased this because I searched for keyword "Tupac" this was in the results and sounded like it was a good listen for my drive to work. it turned out to be a great story and very informative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must listen for fans of hip hop and rap

Thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish!! It will make you go back and listen to the classic west coast rap sings you've enjoyed for decades now, but with a better understanding of the lyrics music and production behind them. Great job by the author

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very great

I this was a great book. The author did great job in researching and telling the story. I recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great read

Great audio book, so much information that I did not know, during certain eras in hip hop.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Just read the book

The story was excellent. A lot of information that was never told and lets you see the uprise of west coast rap and the fued. Great info on the key players as well. I just wanted it to end though because of the narrator constantly trying to imitate the voice of the people quoted. Imitating women and men alike, he was horrible. Everytime he began to quote a song or their words, i cringed. What could have been a great audible book was just good because of the narrator.

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I am a metal head and this book is great.

I didn't have high hopes for myself to like it. I am mostly a huge heavy metal person. I learned so much I feel I deserve street credit. But to be serious it was a great book might even listen to it again soon.

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Excellent Review on East & West

Loved it the narrator was clear and descriptive in his research a must have for hip hop historians

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Best book on subject

Absolutely loved the narrator, the story was clear and concise. Growing up with these artists, it's interesting to learn the back stories and how they connected then, as well as how they connect to artists now. Loved this book and couldn't put it down.

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Not the biggest Hip Hop fan but LOVED the story

The person who read the book make all the difference. Seems like a lot of this bio-pics are leaving out crucial elements and information. Ben Westoff is an incredible author. Great read!

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  • Martin
  • 05-29-17

Great book

Very comprehensive, great and a pleasure to listen to. Lots of unknown facts and gives a very good understanding of historic events