11. King Tee
From: Compton, CA
Signature Song: King Tee "Bass" (1988)
If you don't know that King Tee is one of the West Coast's most important artists, you better ask somebody. Emerging as one of Compton's earliest hip-hop heroes, the rapper's 1988 debut, Act A Fool, was widely considered a hip-hop classic. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he worked primarily with producer DJ Pooh, and was responsible for the rise of the Alkaholiks, whom he helped guide into the industry.
According to Ice T, King Tee was a formative influence on the Notorious B.I.G. He was also a member of the Likwit crew, a conglomeration of Los Angeles artists that included Xzibit, who would bring Tee into Dr. Dre's orbit. At one point the Cali rap pioneer was considered one of the most respected West Coast rappers, but he failed to gain the national attention most expected him to get. After releasing three more albums on Capitol, Tee left to join Dr. Dre's Aftermath label. Numerous delays and a chronically delayed album made him leave, only to release the Dre-helmed record Thy Kingdom in 2002 to minimal attention.