A rap-enthusiasts' guide to the USA

Published July 6th, 2012

While we all know there are plenty of things to see in the USA, there are also plenty things to hear as well. This is after all, the home of country twang, where Elvis once rocked in the jailhouse and the birthplace of rap and hip-hop. And while Dolly Parton’s drawl and Elvis’ shaking hips might not have lasted the test of time, rap and hip-hop in the USA is still alive and swaggin’.

So for those of you who’d like to know your East Coast verses West Coast, you’re Lil Waynes from your Lil Johns or where to see an 8-Mile-style rap battle during your USA holiday, we’ve mapped out a guide to the rap scene in the USA.


East Coast

East Coast

East Coast: New York City, New York


Name dropped as: NYC, the city, Brooklyn, east side


Home town of: Notorious BIG, P Diddy, Jay Z, Wu-Tang Clan, 50 Cent


Anthem: Empire State of Mind by Jay Z and Alicia Keys


The scene: While the East Coast’s rap scene has been concentrated mainly around New York since the birth of rap, the city’s scene is quite diverse and varies between boroughs, with Biggie Smalls hailing from Brooklyn to 50 Cent calling Queens home. To see NYC’s up and comers, head to a show at Rockwood Music Hall or bOb Bar in the Lower East Side, while for a bigger party atmosphere, cut a rug at Santo’s Part House which is owned by Andrew W.K and features Q-Tip on Friday nights.


Don’t miss: Take a hip-hop tour of the city and visit the iconic hip hop venue Harlem World, which opened in 1978.


West Coast

West Coast

West Coast: Los Angeles, California


Name dropped as: Cali, west side


Home town of: Dr Dre, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Odd Future


Anthem: California Love by Tupac and Dr Dre


The scene:  Unlike New York, the hip hop scene was alive and well all throughout the West Coast of America during the seventies. However the focus soon shifted to LA when Tupac declared war against Notorious BIG, subsequently created a rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast. Since then other rappers such as Snoop Dogg and The Game have kept their lyrics local. As such, the hip-hop scene is alive and kicking every night in LA. Get your swag on at the plush-looking Playhouse or kick it old school at the Onyx Lounge which loves to play nineties hip-hop and rap.


Don’t Miss: Witness a freestyle rap battle at Da Poetry Lounge in West Hollywood.


South Side

South Side

South Side: Atlanta, Georgia


Name dropped as: A-Town, Hotlanta, The Big A


Home town of: Jermaine Dupri, Outkast,  Ludacris, Lil John


Anthem: Welcome to Atlanta by Jermaine Dupri


The scene: Atlanta has long been a hub for hip hop and rap music, producing some of the biggest acts in the country. Jermaine Dupri (ex beau of Janet Jackson) is the resounding king of the ‘A-town’ scene, with his own record label So So Def Records helping local talent make it big. Old-school rap lovers won’t want to miss partying at Leopard Lounge, located in Midtown. Or to drink where the rappers drink, head to Cru Urban Lounge.


Don’t Miss: See a home town headlining act at The Masquerade, a historic venue which is rumoured to be haunted.


Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.