Famous Black Lyricists & Songwriters

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Lyricists & Songwriters

 1 Prince

Prince
8
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: April 21, 2016

Singer-songwriter, dancer, and musician, Prince is is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was considered a guitar virtuoso and could also play several other instruments. With worldwide sales of over 150 million records, he is ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was also well known for his flamboyant persona.

 2 The Notorious B.I.G.

The Notorious B.I.G.
6
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: March 9, 1997

The Notorious B.I.G. was a rapper and songwriter and is considered one of the best ever. His debut album Ready to Die in 1994 was critically acclaimed. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in September 1996. His album Life After Death was released two weeks after his death. 

 3 Jay-Z

Jay-Z
5
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Jay-Z is an American rapper and songwriter and is one of the world's best-selling music artists. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was hugely successful in 1996 and since then he has gone on to release many more acclaimed and successful albums. He has been charged with assaulting a record executive and was given a three-year probation sentence in January 2000.

 4 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder
5
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States

American singer and songwriter, Stevie Wonder, is one of most influential and the best-selling musicians of all time. That Girl, Gotta Have You, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Part-Time Lover and Happy Birthday are some of his chartbuster songs. He has won many awards and accolades, including 25 Grammy Awards.

 5 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye
5
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: April 2, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: April 1, 1984

American singer Marvin Gaye is one of the most successful black artists ever and his albums have sold in millions. His success reached great heights with the 1972 song What's Going On. The 1982 single Sexual Healing was the biggest hit of his career and was a chartbuster. He was tragically shot dead by his father after a family altercation.

 6 James Brown

James Brown
4
Famous As: Musician, recording artist, producer, dancer, bandleader
Birthdate: May 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barnwell, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2006

Referred to by honorific nicknames, such as Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a prominent figure of 20th century music. A progenitor of funk music, Brown influenced the development of many music genres. An inductee of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, Brown is ranked seventh in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.

 7 Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Clarksdale, Mississippi, United States
Died: December 11, 1964
The King of Soul Sam Cooke is best remembered for his hits A Change is Gonna Come, You Send Me, and Wonderful World. He began singing gospel as a child and later joined The Soul Stirrers. He was shot and killed by a motel manager in Los Angeles. 
You May Like

 8 Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Guitarist
Birthdate: October 18, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry was an American singer-songwriter. Referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Berry is credited with pioneering rock and roll music. He is also credited with influencing the attitude with which the rock music lifestyle is usually associated. Also revered for his guitaring skills, Berry is often included in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time.

 9 Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: July 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth
Four-time Grammy-winning rapper Missy Elliott, known for her chartbusting tracks such as Get Ur Freak On, was ranked fifth on Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Video Artists of All Time list. She was initially part of the R&B group Sista and then collaborated with Timbaland in the collective Swing Mob

 10 Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 8, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hazlehurst, Mississippi, United States
Died: August 16, 1938

Singer and guitarist Robert Johnson is remembered as a Delta blues legend. Lack of proper documentation of his early life led to various legends surrounding him, such as one that claimed he had made a deal with the Devil to excel in music. He also inspired an award-winning biography. 

 11 Drake

Drake
5
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: October 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Drake soared to fame with his performance as Jimmy Brooks in the series Degrassi: The Next Generation. He then became a rap sensation with his platinum album Thank Me Later and his Grammy-winning quadruple platinum album Take Care. His track In My Feelings went viral with the global Kiki Challenge.

 12 Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
5
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: March 27, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntington, New York, United States

Known for her five-octave vocal range and melismatic singing style, singer-songwriter Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist and a female songwriter. She was ranked second on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. 

 13 Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj
6
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 8, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Amongst the most influential female rap artists of all time and one of the bestselling artists, Nicki Minaj came to limelight after her collaborations with Dirty Money Record and Young Money Entertainment. With subsequent release of her four albums, Minaj firmly established herself as a chart-topping artist. The Queen of Rap has also dabbled in acting and ventured into business.

 14 Tina Turner

Tina Turner
4
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: November 26, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nutbush, Tennessee, United States

Known as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and has had a very long and successful career. Let's Stay Together, What's Love Got to Do with It, Private Dancer and Golden Eye are some of her chartbuster songs. She is also a songwriter and has acted in films too.

 15 Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Covington, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 10, 2008

 16 Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 25, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. Her debut album was a super hit and earned her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling artists in the United States and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her humanitarian work, philanthropy, and activism.

 17 Diana Ross

Diana Ross
4
Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: March 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

With several prestigious honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, under her belt, Diana Ross is one of the most popular and influential singers of all time. In 1976, Billboard named her the Female Entertainer of the Century. She has influenced popular artists like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson.

 18 Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X
18
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: April 9, 1999
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lithia Springs, Georgia, United States

Montero Lamar Hill, better known as Lil Nas X, soared to fame with his US Billboard Hot 100 charter country rap track Old Town Road. The gay singer initially became viral for his comedy videos on Facebook and Vine and then soared to fame on Spotify.

 19 Sean Combs

Sean Combs
6
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: November 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Three-time Grammy-winning hip-hop legend Sean Combs, known to fans as Puffy, Puff Daddy, or Diddy, started off as a talent director with Uptown and then launched his own record label. His debut album, No Way Out, was certified 7Xplatinum, and his song I'll Be Missing You topped the Billboard charts. 

 20 Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones
8
Famous As: Record Producer, Songwriter
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Regarded as one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the previous century, Quincy Jones is known for his work with other legendary artists like Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. As the first African-American to find success at the Academy Awards ceremony, Quincy has influenced a host of black musicians and songwriters.

 21 John Legend

John Legend
7
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Springfield, Ohio, United States

John Legend is a singer, songwriter, actor, film producer and theatre director and his song All of Me from his fourth studio album was a Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit. He has released a host of successful albums. He has also won many awards, including an Oscar and a handful of Grammys. He is also an actor and a TV personality.

 22 Khalid (Singer)

Khalid (Singer)
5
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 11, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fort Stewart, Georgia

Khalid is an American singer-songwriter whose work in Logic’s hit single 1-800-273-8255 earned him a nomination at the Grammy Awards. He has also received prestigious awards, such as Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Award, and American Music Awards. In 2019, he was named in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.

 23 NBA YoungBoy

NBA YoungBoy
6
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: October 20, 1999
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

NBA YoungBoy is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper. He garnered a cult following between 2015 and 2017, during which he released eight successful, independent mixtapes. Rated highly among America's most controversial rappers, NBA YoungBoy has been arrested on a couple of occasions for charges, including attempted first degree murder.

 24 Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah
6
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: March 18, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, USA

Queen Latifah is an American musician and actress whose song U.N.I.T.Y. played a major role in raising awareness about women's rights worldwide. Dubbed Queen of Jazz-Rap, Latifah has influenced several soul, R&B, and hip-hop artists like Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Ivy Queen, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Eve among other artists. As an actress, Latifah has won several prestigious awards.

 25 Akon

Akon
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 16, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Akon is one of the most successful R&B, hip hop and rap singers in the world. His albums Trouble, Konvicted, Freedom, El Negreeto and Akonda have many chartbusters songs. He has also founded record labels Akonik Label Group, KonLive Distribution and Konvict Mizik. He courted controversy in 2007 for an onstage act involving simulated sex with a 15-year-old girl.

 26 Mel B

Mel B
9
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 29, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Harehills, West Yorkshire, England

Mel B is an English television personality and singer-songwriter. She gained international recognition as part of the popular pop girl group Spice Girls, which has sold more than 85 million records. Over the years, Mel B has been an important TV personality, appearing in several reality series as a participant as well as a judge.

 27 Seal

Seal
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 19, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paddington, London, England

Seal is a British singer and songwriter. He has received several prestigious awards over the course of his career. Also known for his charity work, Seal has performed at several charity events in an attempt to help non-profit organizations, such as the Make It Right Foundation.

 28 Nina Simone

Nina Simone
5
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer
Birthdate: February 21, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tryon
Died: April 21, 2003

Widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a pioneering recording artist whose career was characterized by improvisational genius and fits of outrage. Nina continues to be an important musician and has influenced several artists like Elton John, Adele, David Bowie, Madonna, and Aretha Franklin. She was also a civil rights activist.

 29 Brandy Norwood

Brandy Norwood
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Actor, Record producer
Birthdate: February 11, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: McComb, Mississippi, United States

The singer of chartbuster songs like The Boy Is Mine, I Wanna be Down and Sittin' Up in My Room, Brandy Norwood is known for her raspy and husky voice. Most of her songs are about love, relationships and heartache. She was involved in a car accident in 2006, leading to multiple lawsuits, which were eventually settled out of court.

 30 Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield
3
Famous As: Singer, Guitarist
Birthdate: June 3, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: December 26, 1999
Soul singer and guitarist Curtis Mayfield gained fame with The Impressions. His songs such as People Get Ready carried prominent social themes. The Grammy Hall of Fame inductee was paralyzed from the neck down after an accident during a live performance in 1990 but continued to record even after that.

 31 Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi
5
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: January 30, 1984
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Grammy-winning rapper Kid Cudi first came into public consciousness with his mixtape that made Kanye West sign him to his label. Kid delivered a double-platinum debut album, formed the band WZRD, and sold 16 million records in the U.S. He has also dabbled in acting and now owns a label.

 32 Ice-T

Ice-T
7
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: February 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States

Rapper, singer, songwriter, musician, and actor, Ice-T is known for his fusion music that combines elements of rock and hip hop. Beginning his career as an underground rapper in the 1980s, he went on to release many albums that were commercially and critically successful. He is also an actor and voice actor.

 33 Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper
9
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: April 16, 1993
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Chance the Rapper is best known for his Billboard-charting mixtape Coloring Book, which was the first streaming-only album to earn a Grammy. An avid social activist in Chicago, he owns the non-profit SocialWorks. He is known for his signature style of wearing a cap with the number "3" on it.

 34 Lizzo

Lizzo
6
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 27, 1988
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Three-time Grammy-winning rap and hip-hop sensation Lizzo is also a queer and body-positivity icon. She began singing with groups such as The Chalice and Grrrl Prty, and graced the Billboard 200 with the album Cuz I Love You. Time’s 2019 Entertainer of the Year, Lizzo is also a talented flute-player.

 35 Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

Widely regarded as the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter whose debut studio album Baduizm helped popularize neo-soul in the late-1990s. Thanks to her popularity, Erykah Badu serves as a subject for street art in several places, including Greater London, England. Also an actress, Badu has appeared in popular films, such as The Cider House Rules.

 36 Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean
8
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: October 28, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Long Beach, California

Regarded as one of the most acclaimed musical artists of his generation, Frank Ocean is recognized for his unconventional production techniques and wide vocal range. He is credited with revitalizing and popularizing jazz and funk-influenced R&B. He is also regarded as a representative of alternative R&B. He was named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list.

 37 Donna Summer

Donna Summer
4
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 17, 2012

 38 R. Kelly

R. Kelly
5
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 8, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

One of the best known R&B artists, R Kelly, who’s sung many chart-topping songs and has sold millions of records, has been accused of sexual abuse by many women. He and is facing several state and federal charges in the US. He was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking and child pornography.

 39 Teyana Taylor

Teyana Taylor
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 10, 1990
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Harlem, New York

R&B and hip-hop singer Teyana Taylor gained fame with MTV's My Super Sweet 16. She signed with Kanye West’s label and also appeared on the reality show Teyana and Iman, with her husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert. In December 2020, she announced her retirement from music through Instagram.

 40 Tay-K 47

Tay-K 47
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: June 16, 2000
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Long Beach, California
Rapper Tay-K is best known for his Billboard-charting and platinum-certified track The Race. The same day the song was released, U.S. marshals arrested him on murder charges in New Jersey. He was convicted in the case involving the death of Ethan Walker and was later indicted for another murder.

 41 Otis Redding

Otis Redding
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 9, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dawson, Georgia, United States
Died: December 10, 1967
The King of Soul Otis Redding, who had performed with the Pinetoppers, among others, is remembered for his track (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay, released after his death in a plane crash. It became the first posthumous Billboard R&B- and Hot 100-topping record. He also won two posthumous Grammys

 42 André 3000

André 3000
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: May 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

 43 Solange Knowles

Solange Knowles
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Solange Knowles, younger sister of pop star Beyoncé Knowles, initially performed as a back-up dancer and wrote songs for Beyoncé’s band Destiny's Child. She has delivered Grammy-winning tracks such as Cranes in the Sky and has also won an Impact Award. She also owns a hip-hop-themed children’s merchandise brand.

 44 Roddy Ricch

Roddy Ricch
5
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: October 22, 1998
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Compton, California, United States

Trap sensation Roddy Ricch is best known for his mixtape Feed Tha Streets II, which featured the Billboard Hot 100-charting track Die Young. Nipsey Hussle's track Racks in the Middle, featuring Ricch, got him a Grammy Award. Fans also loved Ricch's Hot 100-topping single The Box from his debut album.

 45 2 Chainz

2 Chainz
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: College Park, Georgia, United States

2 Chainz is an American rapper, media personality, songwriter, and basketball player. One-half of the now-defunct hip hop duo Playaz Circle, 2 Chainz is credited with founding The Real University, his own independent record label. Also an entrepreneur, 2 Chainz owns Dabbing Sweaters, his own line of sweaters, and CEO Millionaires, a line of hoodies.

 46 Kanye West

Kanye West
0
Famous As: Rapper, Husband of Kim Kardashian
Birthdate: June 8, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Creative from a very young age, Kanye West dreamed of becoming a rapper since very early in his life. He became an award winning American rapper whose creativity in music is widely appreciated by critics. However, his outspoken views, comments and behaviour have quite often landed him controversies.

 47 will.i.am

will.i.am
5
Famous As: Rapper, Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: March 15, 1975
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Rapper and music producer William James Adams Jr., better known as “will.i.am,” is a founding member of the Black Eyed Peas. He went solo later and released tracks such as the NBA Live theme Go! The seven-time Grammy-winning artist also wrote Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign theme Yes We Can.

 48 T-Pain

T-Pain
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 30, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tallahassee, Florida, United States
Faheem Rasheed Najm, better known as T-Pain, shot to fame with the US Billboard 200-topping album Epiphany. The two-time Grammy-winning artist is known for his signature use of the auto-tune effect. He has delivered hit singles such as I'm on a Boat and has played minor roles in several films.

 49 Master P

Master P
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: April 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

 50 Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: May 20, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: East Flatbush, New York, United States