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.

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 1 Prince

Prince.
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Famous As: African-American Singer
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..
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Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, 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 R. Kelly

R. Kelly.
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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.

 4 Jay-Z

Jay-Z.
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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.

 5 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder.
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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.

 6 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye.
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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.

 7 James Brown

James Brown.
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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.

You May Like

 8 Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States
Died: June 25, 2009

The King of Pop and an international superstar, Michael Jackson was a musical entertainer whose work – both with Jackson 5 and solo – won accolades and hearts worldwide. Equally popular were his unique dance moves that created sensation and shaped future dance styles. Amongst the most successful entertainers of all time, Jackson was later accused of child molestation.  

 9 Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry.
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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.

 10 Kanye West

Kanye West.
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Famous As: Rapper, Singer-Songwriter, Record Producer
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.

 11 Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke.
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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. 

 12 Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X
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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.

 13 John Legend

John Legend.
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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.

 14 Sean Combs

Sean Combs.
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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. 

 15 Mel B

Mel B.
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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.

 16 Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper.
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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.

 17 Ice-T

Ice-T.
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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.

 18 Seal

Seal.
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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.

 19 Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott.
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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

 20 Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean.
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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.

 21 Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah.
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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.

 22 NBA YoungBoy

NBA YoungBoy.
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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.

 23 Khalid (Singer)

Khalid (Singer).
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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.

 24 Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson.
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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. 

 25 Akon

Akon.
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Famous As: Singer
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 Nina Simone

Nina Simone.
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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.

 27 XXXTentacion

XXXTentacion.
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: January 23, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Florida
Died: June 18, 2018

A rapper and singer, XXXTentacion, gained fame with the success of the song, Look at Me, and release of albums like 17 and ?. In his personal life, he faced multiple legal issues from the beginning. He was shot dead at the young age of 20. XXXTentacion had a cult following among the youth owing to his depression and alienation thematic driven music.

 28 Lizzo

Lizzo.
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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.

 29 The Weeknd

The Weeknd.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 16, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Scarborough

One of the most successful Canadian recording artists, singer-songwriter, the Weeknd, holds several chart records and has won numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards. Despite a difficult childhood marred by drug abuse and violence, he persevered and worked hard to emerge as a beloved music star. He is actively involved in philanthropy.

 30 Juice WRLD

Juice WRLD.
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 2, 1998
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: December 8, 2019
Rapper Juice Wrld is best remembered for his tracks Lucid Dreams and All Girls Are the Same. He was also part of the collective Internet Money. He died due to a drug-induced seizure at the age of 21. His posthumous album Legends Never Die topped the Billboard 200 chart.

 31 Eazy-E

Eazy-E.
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 7, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Compton, California
Died: March 26, 1995

Widely regarded as the godfather of gangsta rap, Eazy-E was a rapper and record producer. He played a major role in popularizing gangsta rap and West Coast rap by forming N.W.A, which is considered one of the most influential and greatest hip hop groups of all time. Eazy-E died at the age of 30 after being diagnosed with AIDS.

 32 Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg.
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Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 20, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States

Snoop Dogg is a famous American rapper whose life is a perfect example of rags-to-riches story. As a child, he did various odd jobs to help his family make ends meet. He started rapping as a young boy to distract himself from his unstable family life. He ran into trouble with the law as a teenager. However, once he released his debut album, there was no looking back.

 

 33 Brandy Norwood

Brandy Norwood.
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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.

 34 Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix.
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Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: November 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States
Died: September 18, 1970

One of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. As his career progressed, he became the first musician to use stereophonic phasing effects in recordings. Rolling Stone ranked him as the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time. He died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 27.

 35 Isaac Hayes

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

 36 Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas

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.

 37 Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Terrell, Texas, United States

Actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian, Jamie Foxx became internationally famous for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray, a role that earned him an Academy Award. He is also known for hosting his own television sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show. Besides acting, he is also a Grammy Award-winning musician who has released four albums.

 38 DaBaby

DaBaby.
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 22, 1991
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio

American rapper and songwriter DaBaby gained critical acclaim and commercial success with his debut album Baby on Baby. Later, his two other albums Kirk and Blame It on Baby became huge successes and made him one of the biggest rappers in the US. Earlier his single Light Show and Baby Talk series of mixtape attracted quite a lot of attention.

 39 Teyana Taylor

Teyana Taylor.
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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 Faith Evans

Faith Evans.
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: June 10, 1973
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lakeland
R&B and hip-hop artist Faith Evans is the first female artist to sign with Sean Combs’s label. She was married to rapper The Notorious B.I.G., who was killed in a shooting. Evans later won a Grammy for the song I'll Be Missing You, released in memory of her late husband.

 41 Saweetie

Saweetie.
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Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: July 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Clara, Hayward, California

Saweetie is an American rapper gained recognition when she posted her debut single Icy Grl on SoundCloud. Subsequently, the video of the song broke the internet as it went on to gather 100 million views on YouTube. She was then signed by Warner Records, which increased her popularity. She is also signed to Artistry Worldwide, her manager Max Gousse's record label.

 42 Roddy Ricch

Roddy Ricch.
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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.

 43 2 Chainz

2 Chainz.
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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.

 44 Tay-K 47

Tay-K 47.
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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.

 45 Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 5, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States
Rapper-singer Pharrell Williams began his career with The Neptunes, the record-production duo he had formed with Chad Hugo. He was also part of the band N.E.R.D., as its lead vocalist. He is known for his Academy Award-nominated song Happy from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack and his 13 Grammy wins.

 46 will.i.am

will.i.am.
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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.

 47 Donna Summer

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

 48 Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa.
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Famous As: Rapper & Songwriter
Birthdate: September 8, 1987
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Minot, North Dakota, United States
Rapper Wiz Khalifa shot to fame with his Billboard-topping track Black and Yellow. His single See You Again was part of the soundtrack of Furious 7 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks. The Grammy-nominated artist is a supporter of cannabis usage and a martial arts enthusiast.

 49 André 3000

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

 50 Ciara

Ciara.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 25, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, United States

Ciara is an American singer-songwriter whose debut single, Goodies, earned her the title Princess of Crunk&B. Her songs, Goodies and Yeah!, are credited with introducing the substyle of contemporary R&B and crunk music called crunk&B to music lovers. Also a dancer and model, Ciara has had a major impact on the American entertainment industry for the past 10 years.