The most successful styles of the 90s were the hardcore rap of New York and the gangsta rap and G-Funk of Los Angeles. New York's Wu-Tang Clan created one of the first hardcore styles when they rapped about gangster life over swinging hip hop beats with samples from martial-arts movies. In 1994 a young rapper named Nas released his first album Illmatic. Its loose mid-tempo beats, jazzy samples and Nas' poetic rapping made Illmatic one of hip hop's greatest albums. Other popular hardcore rappers include Puff Daddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and 50 Cent.
Los Angeles' gangsta rap developed from the rap music of artists like Ice-T and NWA. Ice-T began by sampling funk rhythms and rapping about the dangers of drugs, crime and dropping out of school in tracks like 1990s You Played Yourself. The members of NWA were from Compton, one of LA's poorest and most violent districts, and they rapped about the injustice and police violence in their neighbourhood. Their angry raps included a lot of explicit language, and the media attention this created helped their albums reach the top of the charts. Former NWA member Ice Cube released his classic gangsta album Death Certificate in 1991, and Tupac Shakur, or 2Pac, released his own classic album All Eyez on Me before being killed in 1996.
When Dr Dre, another former NWA member, released his album The Chronicin 1991, G-Funk was heard for the first time. G-Funk producers often sampled funk grooves by George Clinton's P-Funk groups Parliament and Funkadelic and slowed them down to create relaxed beats with funky bass lines, electronic effects and female backing vocals. G-Funk rappers also rapped about gangsta-rap topics, but they focused on partying, drugs and sex more than violence, crime and guns. Classic G-Funk albums include DJ Quik's Quik Is the Name and Snoop Dog's Doggystyle. Hardcore, gangsta and G-Funk rappers often adopted gangster images and their explicit language and the way they rapped about women upset many people. But many others, especially teenage boys, loved these styles and helped them become the sound of mainstream hip hop.