41. The Jacka
From: Pittsburg, CA
Signature Song: The Jacka f/ Andre Nickatina "Glamorous Lifestyle" (2009)
In the mid-1990s, C-Bo was a rising California gangster rapper. While his career slowed in the next decade, a group he helped introduce to the music industry would go on to transform Bay Area rap music. Although the Mob Figaz (a group consisting of Rydah J. Klyde, Husalah, Fed-X, AP-9 and The Jacka) were largely under the radar during Hyphy's big moment in the mid-2000s outside of California, Jacka's 2005 release The Jack Artist established that there was much more going on in the Bay than manic Rick Rock beats and kids being irresponsible with automobiles.
The Mob Figaz, by contrast, were more concerned with adding onto Cali's street rap tradition and incorporating an East Coast influence; they had come of age in the late 1990s, when the Bay's scene was widely considered to be faltering and New York was ascendant.
The Jacka in particular has a laid-back, smooth flow reminiscent of influences like Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and Special Ed, mixed with the more militant West Coast influences of Kam and Ice Cube, filtered through his own conversion to Islam. He also had an unusual ear for beats, incorporating reggae samples and production that hearkened back to New York's pop-rap peak in the early 2000s. From 2005 through 2009, he released a series of records, both solo and as a member of the Mob Figaz, culminating in 2009's epic Tear Gas.
Most compelling was how he addressed violence, keeping his moral conscience intact while nonetheless remaining fundamentally a street-oriented artist. Unfortunately, the media backlash after Hyphy worked against his crossover; a subsequent lack of interest in Bay Area rap music remanded him to the post-Mac Dre touring circuit from the Bay to Kansas City.