Detroit’s rap scene was shot to prominence on a global scale with the movie “8 Mile,” starring arguably the greatest rapper of all time, whom we also chose to start our list with. However, there are many more amazing rappers from Detroit, so let’s have a closer look at them.
Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is probably the most famous rapper from Detroit. Eminem’s first album was called Infinite dropped in 1996. It wasn’t a big hit, but it did start to make him known as a rapper.
His next album didn't come out until 1999 when he released The Slim Shady LP. It was his first major success, giving him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
Since then, he has released 11 albums, including an album with Dr. Dre called Detox that never came out.
2. Danny Brown
Danny Brown is an American rapper and record producer. He is known for his eccentric, high-energy stage performances, as well as his diverse discography and distinctive rapping style, as evident in the Radio Song.
Born March 16, 1981, in Detroit, Michigan, Brown first joined the hip-hop group Reservoir Dogs before gaining major recognition. He produced a series of solo mixtapes released independently under the alias Bruiser Brigade.
After forming a brief partnership with fellow Detroit native Royce da 5'9″, he self-released two full-length albums. These were The Hybrid (2008) and Hot Soup (2010). In 2011 he signed to Fool's Gold Records and recorded his third studio album XXX which received widespread critical acclaim upon release.
D12 is an American hip-hop group from Detroit, Michigan. The group's membership comprises some of the best Detroit rappers, including Proof ( deceased), Eminem, Bizarre, Kuniva, and Mr. Porter.
In 2004 they released a second album titled D12 World, which featured Dr. Dre and 50 Cent guest appearances. The lead song Git Up video garnered over six million YouTube views. Their most recent album was 2012’s Return of the Dozen Vol 1 EP.
In 2016 D12 released Kings Of Detroit Mixtape Vol 1 compilation mixtape featuring previously unreleased material such as ‘Sunshine’ produced by DJ Premier.
Alvin Nathaniel Joiner, better known as Xzibit, was born in Detroit. He started rapping at the age of ten, heavily impacted by the loss of his mother a year prior. When he was 14, he took on the pseudonym “Exhibit A.”
Xzibit’s first recorded work was on The Alkaholiks' “Coast II Coast” album in 1995. He released his debut album, “At the Speed of Life,” a year later. It reached number 74 on the Billboard Hot 200. Since then, he’s released seven more studio albums and four with Serial Killers, an American hip-hop supergroup.
Besides music, Xzibit has starred in documentaries, movies, and more, including hosting his own highly successful reality TV series “Pimp My Ride.” In addition, he’s also lent his voice and appeared as a playable character in multiple video games.
5. MC Breed
MC Breed, born in Flint, Michigan, was a member of the 2 Live Crew and was also part of the Geto Boys. He has been a member of the Rap-A-Lot Records family for more than 20 years.
His best video on YouTube is “Aint No Future” from his 1991 album MC Breed & DFC. On November 22, 2008, at age 44, MC Breed died from an apparent heart attack while driving in Flint, Michigan.
G-Side is a hip-hop duo from Detroit. Their label is Shebro Entertainment, and the group consists of Jiggy Jack, aka Penetentiary & Mr. Ran.
Considered some of the best Detroit rappers, the two have released four projects together. Their latest music video, Statue, has over 8 million views on YouTube.
7. J. Dilla
J Dilla was a hip-hop producer from Detroit, Michigan. He was known for his production work for many hip-hop acts, most notably A Tribe Called Quest and Slum Village.
He died in 2006 at age 32 due to an unspecified illness, but not before mentoring Kanye West and other best Michigan rappers. Pharrell Williams said in an interview that he adored Dilla's talent.
8. Guilty Simpson
Guilty Simpson is an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan. He is a member of the hip-hop collective D12.
His recording career goes over 20 years, and he has worked with artists such as Madlib, J-Dilla,
and MF DOOM.
He has also appeared on De La Soul albums and collaborated with fellow Detroit-based rapper Black Milk on their critically acclaimed album Popular Demand in 2009.
In 2017 he released his first solo record since 2008's Ode To The Ghetto: Stone Walls & Steel Bars.
9. Black Milk
If you're into crazy rap music, Black Milk is one of Detroit's best rappers. He's an underground artist with a unique sound. He has also produced for other famous rappers like Danny Brown and Royce da 5'9″.
His real name is Curtis Eugene Cross. He grew up in Detroit, and his debut solo album was Sound of the City Vol. 1, which came out in 2009.
In 2012, he released Glitches in the Break (with Fat Ray) featuring Phat Kat and Guilty Simpson.
10. Dej Loaf
Dej Loaf is one of the best Detroit rappers with a sharp lyrical wit. She released her first album, #AndSeeThatsTheThing, in 2011. She has since released four albums and has won two Grammy awards, including one for “Best Rap Performance” for the single “Try Me.”
She has also collaborated with other artists on several songs, such as Ty Dolla $ign's “Stand For,” Jeezy's “On My Level,” and Jay Rock's “Win.”
Her recent YouTube video has gone viral with more than 116 million views. The video is for the song Try Me.
11. Slum Village
Slum Village is a hip-hop group from Detroit, Michigan. They released their debut album, Fantastic, Vol. 2. In 2002, their second album entitled Trinity (Past Present & Future) came out.
They signed to EMI and released the third installment of their trilogy titled “The Dirty Slums”—a reference to the name of one of their earliest crews: The Slum Village Gangstas.
They have also collaborated with Jay Dee and his group Soulquarians, Pharrell, and Busta Rhymes. Their best YouTube video is probably Tainted with Dwelle.
12. Trick Trick
Trick Trick has been a Detroit rapper in the game since the ‘90s. He was born Christian Mathis, and his real name remains unchanged among the hip-hop community, but he has an alter ego named “Trick Trick.”
His first album came out in 2003, titled The Villain. In 2005, Trick released his second album with Eminem called Detroit vs. Everybody: We Are Motor City, and a DVD called Live from the D with Royce Da 5'9″.
In 2009 he dropped The Villain II and then followed that up with The Villain III in 2011. Both albums were popular among fans of underground hip-hop.
13. Obie Trice
Obie Trice is a rapper born in Detroit, Michigan. He signed to Eminem's Shady Records and released his first album, Cheers, in 2003. The album sold over 1 million copies worldwide and produced the hit single “Got Some Teeth.”
His second album, Second Round's On Me, came out in 2005 and went platinum. The album featured appearances from Eminem, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z, among others.
In 2012 Obie Trice announced that he would release his third studio album, Bottoms Up, via Aftermath Entertainment on May 7, 2013.
Supakaine is one of the best Detroit rappers who started from an early age. In addition to his solo work, he’s collaborated with other rappers such as Big Sean and Big Boi.
Supakaine’s style is mostly quick-fire delivery and witty punchlines in gravelly voice-over beats that range from laid-back to aggressive.
His biggest hits include We Gon Be Ok, License and Outsiders.
15. T3 from Slum Village
T3, the third member of Slum Village and a native Detroit rapper, is known for his unique style. He often raps with an exaggerated Southern drawl, which adds an interesting twist to his rhymes. T3's talent has led him to work with some big names in hip-hop, like Snoop Dogg and Common.
The first track on this list features T3 as a guest rapper on the song “Back Up Off Me” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (watch it here). In addition to appearing on that track, T3 released several solo albums with positive reviews from critics.
16. Phat Kat (Ronnie Cash)
Phat Kat is a formidable American rapper. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, and has been a member of Slum Village since 1996, as well as releasing several solo albums.
Rapper Elzhi gave Ronnie his stage name, derived from one of his earlier nicknames, “Phat” (meaning ‘cool’).
17. Big Sean
Big Sean, born Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan. He was born on March 25, 1988, in Santa Monica, California, and moved to Detroit to live with his grandmother at age 3.
He has released many albums, including Finally Famous: The Album (2011), Dark Sky Paradise (2015), and I Decided (2017).
Big Sean's musical style is a combination of lyrical rap with elements of R&B and soul music.
18. Kash Doll
Arkeisha Antoinette Knight, better known under her stage name Kash Doll, is one of the best Detroit rappers of recent times. She came to prominence with her singles Doing Too Much, Ready Set and Check.
She has released top-performing albums, including Stacked and Kashin Out, which have received great feedback from her fans on social media.
19. Sada Baby
If you love hip-hop, the name Sada Baby probably rings a bell. This rapper from Detroit, Michigan, is known for his hit songs Bloxk Party and Press.
His real name is Casada Aaron Sorrell Jr., a signee of Asylum records. His single Whole Lotta Choppas earned him a collaboration with Nicki Minaj and peaked at number 35 on Billboard Hot 100.
20. Payroll Giovanni
Payroll Giovanni is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan. He is a signee of Def Jam Records. Growing up in the streets of Detroit, he learned how to hustle and make money at an early age.
He started as a battle rapper but soon discovered he could make more money rapping than battling people on the corner.
He has released several mixtapes and albums, including Back to the Ba$ics, Ghetto Rich Niggaz, Stack Season, and Spirit of a Boss.
21. Allstar JR
Allstar JR is an American rapper born in Detroit, Michigan, in February 1994. He released his first solo mixtape, Get a Bag or Go Home, in 2016.
Allstar JR has been involved with music since childhood. His influences include Eminem, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and others who pioneered the genre of gangsta rap during the late 90s. He sang in church choirs and later won many talent shows around town.
22. Boldy James
Boldy James is an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan. He's a signee of Mass Appeal Records, and his debut album, My 1st Chemistry Test, was released in October 2013.
Look no further if you're looking for a good lyricist with an authentic flow and a unique voice.
Boldy's style is characterized by his use of wordplay and clever metaphors that draw from everyday life in Detroit and beyond.
23. Royce da 5″9
Royce da, 5'9″, is an American rapper born in Detroit, Michigan. He is a member of the hip-hop group Bad Meets Evil and has released two solo albums, Rock City and Death Is Certain.
Royce made his debut with Rock City in 2002, reaching #7 on Billboard's Independent Albums. It failed to make it onto any other charts due to a lack of promotion despite selling over 100,000 copies independently.
DeShaun Dupree Holton, better known as Proof, was one of the best Detroit rappers who died in 2006. The Proof was a member of several rap groups, including Funky Cowboys, Goon Squad, and 5 Elements. He also appeared on several songs with Eminem during this period before going solo.
Proof's debut album, Searching For Jerry Garcia, featured production from Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Denaun Porter. The album peaked at #30 on the Billboard 200 charts but did not do well commercially because of its high price point.
Feloni is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan. She was nominated for Los Angeles Music Award for the best rapper category in 2007 and won the Broadjam's Rap Lyrics Contest in the same year. Her coming out as a lesbian got featured in MTV’s Coming Out Stories.
Her debut album, a Woman’s Revenge, came out in 2007. Her top performing singles include Pussi Can and Blame it Nothin. Feloni is a signee of Trak Diamond Records LLC.
26. Babyface Ray
Babyface Ray is a Detroit rapper known for his freestyle skills. His most famous song, Freestyle, went viral in 2015 and garnered over 3 million views on YouTube.
Babyface Ray has released several mixtapes, including Ghetto Wave, MIA season 2, Trillest, and Legend, among others.
Lizzo is one of the most prominent Detroit rappers with a huge LGBTQ+ following. She is confident in her body and has spoken out about not being afraid to show off her cellulite, stretch marks, and all.
Lizzo was born Melissa Jefferson in 1988. Her family moved around a bit when she was young but ultimately settled in Dallas, Texas, where Lizzo attended an arts high school before heading off to college.
In 2013 Lizzo released Lizzobangers, which received positive reviews globally. In 2014 she followed that up with Big Grrl Small World, Coconut Oil in 2018, and Cuz I Love You in 2020.
Top Detroit Rappers, Final Thoughts
Detroit’s rappers all share a raw and unapologetic style, drawing inspiration from personal trials and tribulations, philosophical views of life, and more. So whether you’re a fan of old school or the new generation of rappers, consider adding some of these artists to your playlist.