Rappers don’t always advertise their personal lives or religious beliefs. Success in the hip-hop industry is often based on portraying a certain image.
Some rappers glamorize a lifestyle of violence and drugs, while others promote being rich and consorting with beautiful women. However, some of the best rappers are followers of the Islam faith in their personal lives. Here are the 17 Best Muslim Rappers.
Philadelphia rapper Freeway came to prominence in the early 2000s as part of the rap group State Property – with fellow notable rappers Beanie Sigel and the Young Gunz – and his affiliation with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records. His name is a reference to the famous drug dealer Freeway Ricky Ross.
Freeway’s debut album, “Philadelphia Freeway,” spawned the hit single “What We Do” and helped the rapper cultivate a dedicated fan base.
Freeway has one of the most distinctive voices in rap music. He always sounds like he is gasping for air and desperate to convey his message before running out of breath.
Moroccan rapper French Montana is on the hip-hop A-List and is one of the most famous Muslim rappers. With his signature adlib “Haan!”, he’s also been among the most featured guests over the past decade.
Montana’s first big hit that introduced him to the world was the 2012 hit “Shot Caller” and the subsequent remix. After signing to Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, he released “Stay Schemin” and “Pop That,” two of the biggest hits of his career. His highest-charting song to date is “Unforgettable,” a collaboration with Swae Lee that hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100.
Montana has a slick, low-key delivery. He’s the coolest guy in the room, and he wants everyone to know about it.
What is there to say about Busta Rhymes? He’s one of the most iconic rappers of all time and arguably the most energetic artist in all of music. The New York rapper has seemingly been around forever and is downright ancient in the hip-hop world.
Busta rose to prominence in the mid-1980s as part of the group Leaders of the New School. By the early-to-mid 1990s, he was a household name, with popular hits like “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.”
Busta is famous for having one of the fastest lyrical deliveries in rap history.
Los Angeles rapper and actor Ice Cube has been a staple of pop culture since his rise to fame in the 1980s as part of the legendary group N.W.A.
A pioneer of the gangsta rap style, he would go on to forge one of the most successful careers in hip-hop history before moving on to the big screen.
Cube converted to Islam in the 1990s and has been outspoken about his faith as a practicing Muslim.
His signature song, “It Was a Good Day,” remains in radio rotation three decades after its release.
Listening to Kevin Gates' raunchy lyrics, you would never know the Baton Rouge rapper is a practicing Muslim.
He has a raw, in-your-face style and music that touches upon sex, drug use, and violence. He has also been open about his battles with depression and suicidal ideation.
Gates’ first major hit, “I Don’t Get Tired,” propelled him to hip-hop royalty. He followed that up with his most successful song to date, “2 Phones” – a song about life in the illicit drug trade and the necessity of keeping two phones on your person.
Raekwon the Chef was one of the founding members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, the New York contingent that sat on the hip-hop throne in the 1990s.
Wu-Tang became one of the most influential rap groups of all time, and nearly all the members went on to have successful solo careers.
From a pure hip-hop perspective, Raekwon might have had the best solo career of the entire group. His debut album, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” is one of the classic albums in the rap pantheon.
Swizz Beatz can do it all. The New York artist has at times been a DJ, a producer, a songwriter, an A&R executive – and, of course, a rapper.
Beatz is most famous for his work in the 1990s with the Ruff Ryders group and DMX. He wrote and produced “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” the blaring 1998 track that has been bumping from car speakers for the past 25 years.
After years behind the scenes, he proved he could hold his own as a solo artist with the release of his debut studio album, “One Man Band,” in 2007. He followed that up with “Poison” in 2018.
Q-Tip forged a path in rap music that was unlike any of his contemporaries. The New York rapper was one the first conscious/backpack rappers to achieve mainstream success, eschewing the regular topics of drugs and violence to focus on introspective and thoughtful lyrics.
Tip rose to prominence as part of the legendary group A Tribe Called Quest, but by the late 1990s, was churning out critically-acclaimed solo albums like “Amplified” and “The Renaissance.”
The rapper’s success in music allowed him to cross over into acting with several features in television and film.
T-Pain figured out the formula for hits pretty early in his career. The master of the Auto-Tune, the Florida rapper/singer/producer dominated the aughts with hits like “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’), “Bartender,” and “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper).
For a brief time, T-Pain was the hottest featured guest verse in all of music. He stole the spotlight on songs like Kanye West’s “Good Life” and Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It” – both of which earned him a Grammy Award – and he has topped the Billboard Hot 100 three times.
Rakim is another of the pioneers of modern rap music and one of the most influential rappers of all time. The self-proclaimed God MC came to prominence in the 1980s alongside partner Eric B. as part of the hip-hop group Eric B & Rakim.
The New York duo helped set the foundation for modern hip-hop with their approach to music. Their 1987 album “Paid in Full” is on the shortlist for best rap albums of all time.
Rakim employed an intricate lyrical delivery that was unlike anything before him and had a quiet confidence that younger rappers tried to emulate.
Philadelphia rapper Beanie Sigel emerged around the same time as labelmate and partner Freeway in the early 2000s as part of the group State Property and Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records.
The gangsta rapper was an intimidating presence on and off the mic, with hardcore violent lyrics that often played out in real life through his endless legal troubles.
Sigel had several successful albums throughout the 2000s and earned a Grammy Award nomination for his contribution to Jay-Z’s song “Change the Game.” He’s been quiet of late and has not released a full-length album since 2012.
“Another one!” Perhaps the most ubiquitous force in all of the rap music, DJ Khaled has been at the forefront of hip-hop music for nearly 20 years. The Palestinian artist’s greatest gift is the ability to bring different artists together for chart-topping hits.
Khaled first came to prominence in the early 2000s because of his affiliation with Fat Joe and the Terror Squad. His second album, the 2007 effort “We the Best,” established him as a force in rap music. He shows no signs of slowing down entering his third decade in hip-hop.
The youngest rapper on this list is also the most recent convert to Islam. Chicago rapper Lil Durk, a pioneer of the hardcore drill sound that emerged in the 2010s, has quickly become an A-List rapper and one of the most successful artists in music.
In his young career, he’s already had two chart-topping Billboard 200 albums and three Grammy Awards nominations.
Durk announced his conversion to Islam in the song “Viral Moment.”
Brooklyn rapper Mos Def is one of the most talented artists in all of pop culture. He became famous for his early work alongside fellow conscious/backpack rapper Talib Kweli as part of the group Black Star.
He parlayed that success into a blossoming solo career, with his 1999 debut album “Black on Both Sides” establishing the MC as one of the best lyricists in the game.
Most Def continued releasing music over the years, but to his music fans’ dismay, his passions soon shifted to acting and social activism.
Alongside Raekwon, Ghostface Killah rose to prominence in the 1990s as part of the Wu-Tang Clan. A fan favorite for his loud, brash demeanor, Ghostface became one of the breakout stars of the group.
When individual members of Wu-Tang began releasing solo albums, Ghostface’s debut effort, “Iron Man,” was among the best. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and led to a career full of memorable guest verses.
Ghostface is famous for being one of the best storytellers in rap history.
Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane was there when hip-hop emerged from the New York underground in the early 1980s. A pioneer of rap music, he is one of the most influential artists in the genre.
Kane’s early collaborations with fellow hip-hop Golden Era artists Biz Markie and Marley Marl made him one of the first true rap stars. His debut album, “Long Live the Kane,” became an inspiration for an entire generation of rappers.
With a fast-paced flow and a mastery of lyrical delivery, Kane helped rap music become what it is today.
Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco wanted no part of the hegemony of gangsta rap music with all of its misogyny and the glorification of drugs and violence.
Instead, he forged a path focused on lyrical delivery and introspection in the conscious rap style. In the mid-aughts, he released his debut album “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor,” gaining mainstream crossover appeal and an international audience that appreciated his thoughtful lyrics.
Fiasco has two Billboard Hot 100 hits on his resume and won a Grammy Award for the song “Daydreamin’.”
Top Muslim Rappers, Final Thoughts
People might be surprised to learn that some of their favorite rappers practice Islam. After all, the best Muslim rappers aren’t exactly writing lyrics that glorify their faith or talk about their religious habits.
However, the exceptional talent of the artists on this list should leave no doubt that Muslim rappers are amongst the best in rap music.