The East Coast Rap Crews: Who Will Reign Supreme?

From Wu-Tang Clan to A Tribe Called Quest, the East Coast has some of the most iconic rap crews in history.

In recognition of hip hop’s 50th anniversary, BET Digital, in partnership with Ambrosia For Heads, is celebrating the culture by hosting a bracket-style competition that allows you to determine hip hop’s greatest crew.

Rather than having “experts” tell you who is the greatest of all-time, this is your opportunity to collectively make that decision. After giving the opportunity to any and all fans to provide feedback on which crews should be included, 32 collectives from different regions, styles, and generations have been selected—all vying for that #1 spot. When the final battle is over and the last vote is cast, you will have determined who is your Greatest Rap Crew of All Time. Let's start with the crews from the East Coast.

Hip hop’s East Coast heritage is at the epicenter of its 50th anniversary celebration. In the boroughs of New York City, DJs, MCs, graffiti artists, and breakers congregated to form something that would change history. By the late 1970s, that spirit of competition was very much alive in the art form, in a way that excited fans and propelled artists toward evolution and individuality.

Pioneering rap crews battled on stages, while a competitive spirit emerged in the 1980s that transpired on records that all the world could hear. The East Coast's representation eventually grew beyond New York City to other cities and regions, with distinct styles, slang, production, and attitudes. 


This region has honored its heritage ever since. Below are eight rap crews spanning the recorded era of hip hop on the East Coast. Each collective, packing multiple significant artists, represents a range of eras, sounds, and locations. That pioneering spirit of competition from the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and beyond lives on today, and this tournament intends to honor that experience.

Check out the crews representing the East Coast.


Wu-Tang, Dreamville
Wu-Tang vs. Dreamville

Roughly a quarter-century apart, Wu-Tang Clan vs. Dreamville each found success without conforming to convention. Both of these crews came from unlikely places—New York City’s overlooked borough of Staten Island and Fayetteville, North Carolina. From there, these squads assembled talent from other places to become forces to be reckoned with. 

In recent years, the respect between the crews has been there—JID has collaborated with Method Man, while J. Cole’s production has sampled Wu. These crews have used their early foothold to build a platform for other talented and deserving artists. Even if their origin stories are hundreds of miles apart, Wu-Tang and Dreamville come together for a round 1 matchup where only one can prevail. 

Click here to find out more about this epic battle.


Two of New York City’s most talented and colorful collectives are The Native Tongues and The Juice Crew. The two crews were fueled, in part, by a competitive rivalry between several legendary NYC radio personalities. The Juice Crew were close associates of WBLS-FM radio mainstays Mr. Magic and Marley Marl. Magic and Marley’s rival at KISS-FM, DJ Red Alert, was a mentor to The Jungle Brothers, who helped ignite the Native Tongues. Despite a radio rivalry, these two crews coexisted with respect. 

Biz Markie would collaborate and tour with De La Soul, while Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes would appear together on a Big Daddy Kane single. Both crews promoted Black pride, self-love, and excellence at one’s craft. However, after this exciting East Coast Region Round 1 matchup, only one legendary crew can remain.

Click here to find out more about this epic battle.


Roc-A-Fella and G-Unit were dominant forces of the early 2000s whose impact remains today. Under the superstardom of JAY-Z and 50 Cent were teams of hungry artists in the wings. In both cases, these included figures from these artists’ pasts but also quickly expanded to include talented creatives from around the country and veterans who seamlessly fit into the movement. 

Both Roc and G-Unit meant far more than just another crew name. Each became an attitude, an aesthetic, and a way of life. At times, these ideologies clashed competitively. In other moments, members of these crews came together for powerful results. In 2007, Jay hopped on 50’s “I Get Money” remix, while Lloyd Banks and Juelz Santana came together for a car-inspired hit in “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley.” The Roc Boys face off against G-Unit in a Round 1 clash celebrating two heavy reigns.

Click here to find out more about this epic battle.


By the late 1990s, the Ruff Ryders and Bad Boy worked together as two New York City movements with incredibly talented and diverse crews. In the middle of the decade, Biggie Smalls became one of the most talented and beloved rappers ever to touch a microphone. After B.I.G's passing, DMX emerged with a raw intensity, grit, and soulful relatability that made him a new rap idol. Beyond their superstars, both Bad Bad and Ruff Ryders have successfully introduced and branded a handful of artists. 

As three stalwarts of the Double-R crew, the LOX were also an integral part of Bad Boy during a transition. DMX leveraged feature appearances on The LOX debut and Ma$e albums to build momentum ahead of his five consecutive #1's. These crews proved that steel sharpens steel, even into the 2010s, when X became a headliner on the Bad Boy Reunion Tour. While these rivals have broken bread together and uplifted one another, they must do battle in a Round 1 East Coast clash.

Click here to find out more about this epic battle.

EDITOR's NOTE: Register for the sweepstakes for a chance to win the grand prize of two (2) tickets to the 2023 BET Awards, two (2) round-trip airline tickets, and a 2-night hotel stay on June 25. Up your chances to win by voting weekly.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID OUTSIDE OF THE 50 U.S. & D.C. AND WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C. who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Ends at 12:00 p.m. ET on May 1, 2023. Official Rules:  Sponsor: Black Entertainment Television.

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