Famous Black Lyricists & Songwriters

Right IconThis 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 
Michael Jackson
(One of the Most Significant Cultural Figures of the 20th Century Popularly Known as the 'King of Pop')
Michael Jackson
25
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.  

 2 
Jay-Z
(One of the Most Influential Hip-Hop Artists in History)
Jay-Z
10
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.

 3 
James Brown
(Central Progenitor of Funk Music and Referred to as 'Godfather of Soul')
James Brown
7
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.

 4 
Prince
(Singer-songwriter & Multi-instrumentalist)
Prince
15
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.

 5 
Sam Cooke
(Singer-songwriter)
Sam Cooke
7
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. 
 6 
Chuck Berry
(One of the Most Influential “Rock 'n' Roll” Performers in Music History)
Chuck Berry
5
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.

 7 
Robert Johnson
5
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. 

 8 
Missy Elliott
(Rapper Known for Singles "Get Ur Freak On," "The Rain," and "Lose Control.")
Missy Elliott
8
Birthdate: July 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
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
 9 
Isaac Hayes
(Singer-songwriter)
Isaac Hayes
5
Birthdate: August 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Covington, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 10, 2008
 10 
The Notorious B.I.G.
(One of the Greatest Rappers of All Time)
The Notorious B.I.G.
6
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. 

 11 
Marvin Gaye
(Known as the 'Prince of Soul' and Popular for His Song 'Sexual Healing')
Marvin Gaye
6
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.

 12 
Lionel Richie
(Co-Lead Singer Of Funk Band The Commodores)
Lionel Richie
5
Birthdate: June 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Alabama, United States

Lionel Richie is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and composer whose work with the band Commodores and his solo career established him as a successful balladeer of the 1980s. Having sold more than 90 million records, Lionel Richie is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Also a philanthropist, Richie helped raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

 13 
Ray Charles
(Singer-songwriter)
Ray Charles
4
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States
Died: June 10, 2004

Ray Charles went on to become a great singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, despite suffering blindness due to glaucoma early in his life. One of the most respected and decorated musicians of all time, Ray Charles has been named in lists, such as 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He pioneered the soul music genre, which remains his greatest contribution.

 14 
Lil Nas X
(First Gay Artist To Have #1 Record on Billboard Hot 100)
Lil Nas X
20
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.

 15 
Drake
(One of the Best-Selling Music Artists With the Most Top 10 Singles on the Billboard Hot 100)
Drake
10
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.

 16 
Nas
(One of the Most Influential and Greatest Rappers of All Time)
Nas
5
Birthdate: September 14, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Crown Heights, New York, United States

Widely considered one of the greatest rappers ever, Nas has seven platinum and multi-platinum albums under his belt in the US. In 2006, he was ranked fifth on MTV's The Greatest MCs of All Time list. In 2012, he was ranked second on the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time list published by The Source. He is also an entrepreneur.

 17 
H.E.R.
(R&B Singer Known for Her Abum 'H.E.R')
H.E.R.
7
Birthdate: June 27, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vallejo, California, United States

R&B singer Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson, better known to her fans as H.E.R., had initially released a few works under her real name. However, she gained fame only after the release of her first EP, H.E.R. Volume 1, in 2016. The two-time Grammy-winner performed at the 2020 Primetime Emmy Award ceremony.

 18 
Curtis Mayfield
(Singer, Guitarist)
Curtis Mayfield
4
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.
 19 
Billie Holiday
(One of the Greatest Jazz Singers from the 1930s to the 1950s)
Billie Holiday
12
Birthdate: April 7, 1915
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 17, 1959
Jazz legend Billie Holiday had a tumultuous childhood and ended up in prison due to prostitution. Upon her release, at 14, she started singing using her pseudonym and performed at sold-out Carnegie Hall shows. Nicknamed Lady Day, she was riddled with alcohol and drug issues. She won four posthumous Grammys.
 20 
Kid Cudi
(Rapper who Rose to Fame with His Debut Mixtape 'A Kid Named Cudi')
Kid Cudi
5
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.
 21 
Akon
(Solo R&B and Hip-Hop Artist to Hold Both No.1 & No.2 Position at Billboard Hot 100 Simultaneously Twice)
Akon
5
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.

 22 
Janelle Monae
(Singer-songwriter)
Janelle Monae
5
Birthdate: December 1, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kansas, United States
Artist Janelle Monae initially sang with rapper Big Boi and is known for albums such as Dirty Computer. She has been nominated for the Grammys multiple times. Monae also appeared in films such as Hidden Figures and the Academy Award-winning drama Moonlight. She is both bisexual and pansexual.
 23 
T.I.
(Rapper, Record Producer, and Actor Who is One of the Highest Selling Hip-Hop Artists of All Time)
T.I.
5
Birthdate: September 25, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Rapper T.I., also known as TIP, is one of the pioneers of trap music. The three-time Grammy-winner owns a music label and has seven “Top 5” Billboard 200 albums. He has starred in his own reality series, has written two novels, and has appeared in films such as Ant-Man.

 24 
Kiari Cephus
(Rapper and Member of the Hip Hop Trio 'Migos')
Kiari Cephus
6
Birthdate: December 14, 1991
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
Grammy-nominated artist Kiari Cephus, better known as Offset, is part of the hip-hop group Migos, which has delivered hits such as Versace. He has also invested in the e-sports brand FaZe Clan. Offset has also been in the news for reportedly cheating on his wife Cardi B.
 25 
Mary J. Blige
(Rapper, and Actress Known as "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul")
Mary J. Blige
6
Birthdate: January 11, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

Mary J. Blige is a popular singer-songwriter and actress. Having sold 80 million records worldwide, she is one of the best-selling female artists of all time. Referred to as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary is credited with influencing the fusion of R&B and hip hop. She often gets featured in lists like The 100 Greatest Women in Music.

 26 
NBA YoungBoy
(Rapper Known for His Albums: 'Until Death Call My Name' and 'Top')
NBA YoungBoy
9
Birthdate: October 20, 1999
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

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.

 27 
Meek Mill
(Rapper Known for His Debut Album 'Dreams & Nightmares' which Peaked at No.2 at The US Billboard 200)
Meek Mill
8
Birthdate: May 6, 1987
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Rapper Meek Mill initially performed with the group The Bloodhoundz. His debut album was featured at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. He has released Billboard-charting tracks such as Amen and Going Bad, both featuring Drake. His brushes with the law inspired the documentary Free Meek.
 28 
Frank Ocean
(Rapper and Grammy Award Winner for His Album 'Channel Orange')
Frank Ocean
9
Birthdate: October 28, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States

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.

 29 
Jason Derulo
(Best Known for His Singles “Whatcha Say,” "In My Head" and "Wiggle")
Jason Derulo
4
Birthdate: September 21, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Miramar, Florida, United States

American singer Jason Derulo is one of the best-selling and popular musicians of present times. His forte is pop, but his music also encompasses R&B and hip-hop. Whatcha Say, Don't Wanna Go Home, Talk Dirty, In My Head, Savage Love, The Other Side and Wiggle are some of his smash hit songs. He also acts in movies and television shows.

 30 
ASAP Rocky
(Member of The Hip-Hop Collective 'A$AP Mob')
ASAP Rocky
10
Birthdate: October 3, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Rapper ASAP Rocky gained fame with his debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP. He released two consecutive Billboard 200-topping albums, Long. Live. ASAP and At. Long. Last. A$AP. Fans loved his Grammy-nominated single Fuckin' Problems. He also produces using the pseudonym Lord Flacko and is part of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob.
 31 
Erykah Badu
(Singer-Songwriter Know for Her Singles like "On & On," "Honey," and "The Healer.")
Erykah Badu
5
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.

 32 
Seal
(Singer-songwriter)
Seal
10
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.

 33 
Donna Summer
(Singer-Songwriter)
Donna Summer
4
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 17, 2012
 34 
Tracy Chapman
(Known for Her Hit Singles 'Fast Car', 'Talkin' 'bout a Revolution' and 'Baby Can I Hold You')
Tracy Chapman
6
Birthdate: March 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

A four-time Grammy Award-winning artist, singer Tracy Chapman is best known for her hit single, Give Me One Reason. Interested in music from a young age, she learned to play multiple instruments as a child. She made her major-stage debut in 1985 and soon became a sensational hit. She is also known for her social activism.

 35 
André 3000
(Rapper)
André 3000
4
Birthdate: May 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
 36 
Otis Redding
(Singer-songwriter)
Otis Redding
4
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
 37 
Mel B
(Singer)
Mel B
14
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.

 38 
Tay-K 47
(Rapper)
Tay-K 47
5
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.
 39 
Nate Dogg
(Rapper Best Known for His Song ‘Regulate')
Nate Dogg
4
Birthdate: August 19, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States
Died: March 15, 2011

Nicknamed King of Hooks, American singer and rapper Nate Dogg is best known for his collaborations with other celebrated rappers like Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Dr. Dre.  Equally successful as a solo artist, he had recorded three solo albums as well as a string of singles, concurrently charting 16 times on the Billboard Hot 100 as a featured artist.

 40 
Gladys Knight
(Singer-Songwriter)
Gladys Knight
4
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
 41 
T-Pain
(Rapper who Popularized Auto-Tune pitch Correction Effect)
T-Pain
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1984
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.
 42 
Busta Rhymes
(Rapper)
Busta Rhymes
4
Birthdate: May 20, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: East Flatbush, New York, United States
 43 
Master P
(Rapper)
Master P
4
Birthdate: April 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
 44 
Jordin Sparks
(Pop Singer Who Became Famous at Age Seventeen When She Won Season Six of 'American Idol')
Jordin Sparks
4
Birthdate: December 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Jordin Sparks was the youngest American Idol winner, at 17. She released Billboard Hot 100-charting singles such as Tattoo and No Air, the latter with Chris Brown. Named to VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Music list, she has also launched her own perfume and performed on stage and on screen.
 45 
Eve
(Rapper)
Eve
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1978
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
 46 
Keenon Jackson
(Rapper Known for His Singles 'Toot It and Boot It' and 'Don't Tell 'Em')
Keenon Jackson
4
Birthdate: March 9, 1990
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Compton, California, United States

Keenon Jackson is an American actor and rapper whose 2013 single My Nigga, for which he collaborated with Rich Homie Quan and Young Jeezy, won the 2014 BET Hip Hop Award for Best Collabo, Duo or Group. One of the most controversial rappers of the current generation, Keenon Jackson was arrested in 2020 on robbery charges and was detained for arraignment.

 47 
Berry Gordy
(Record Executive)
Berry Gordy
5
Birthdate: November 28, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Detroit, MichiganDetroit, Michigan, United States
 48 
Lil TJAY
(Rapper)
Lil TJAY
3
Birthdate: April 30, 2001
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

Tione Jayden Merritt, better known as Lil Tjay, soared to fame with his Billboard Hot 100-charting tracks Brothers and F.N. He initially gained prominence on SoundCloud. He is also known as the Bronx Justin Bieber. Fans love his signature use of the auto-tune feature in his songs. 

 49 
Bryson Tiller
(Best Known for Hit Single 'Don't')
Bryson Tiller
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States

Bryson Tiller is an American rapper and singer-songwriter. After achieving success with his debut single Don't, Tiller went on to sign a deal with RCA Records and then came up with his debut album Trapsoul, which peaked at the eighth position on the Billboard 200 chart. Since then, he hasn’t looked back and has performed alongside the likes of Rihanna.

 50 
Tech N9ne
(Rapper)
Tech N9ne
4
Birthdate: November 8, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Rapper Aaron Dontez Yates, better known as Tech N9ne, formed the record label Strange Music with Travis O'Guin. His stage name was inspired by a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun gifted to him by rapper Black Walt. His music has been featured in video games, TV shows, and films.