With so much attention being given to rappers who sing and the raging debate on whether singing is “hip-hop” we decided to ask: who are hip-hop’s best singers?
10) TJ Swan: The Juice Crew all-star sings the hooks on Biz Markie’s “Nobody Beats The Biz” and MC Shan’s “Left Me Lonely,” just to name a few.
9) Sleepy Brown:This Dungeon Family crooner has laced countless songs from Outkast and Goodie Mob including “I Can’t Wait” and Big Gipp’s “Steppin’ Out.”
8. Phonte of Little Brother: The Little Brother front man has sung hooks for his own group as well as Playaz Circle (“Paper Chaser”) and Statik Seletktah. He recently released a full CD of his singing, Leave It All Behind, as part of The Foreign Exchange.
7) Mos Def & Pharoahe Monch (tie) While the Brooklyn MC likes to sprinkle his albums and shows with jazz-inspired scats, it’s his focused pieces like “Umi Says” that endear his singing to his fans. Pharoahe’s crooning for others (Styles P’s “My Life”) as well as his own (“Pushin”) make him a favorite among singing MCs.
6) Devin The Dude: The smooth and laid back vocals of this smoked out rapper/singer can be heard on a number of songs including De La Soul’s “Baby Phat” and Dr. Dre’s “I Just Wanna F*ck You” as well as his own solo work like Just Tryin’ To Live and his latest, Landing Gear.
5) Vinia Mojica The Native Tongues would have a whole lot less soul if not for the contributions of this Queens, NY songtress. From De La Soul’s “Saturdays” to Black Star’s “K.O.S” she always kept the needle in the groove.
4) Pharrell & Andre 3000 (tie) The producer/singer/sneaker pimp multitasker rocks his falsetto on hooks for Snoop (“Beautiful”) and Jay-Z (“Excuse Me Miss”) and put his stamp on N.E.R.D. projects with songs like “Frontin.” Andre 3000’s The Love Below featured the hit “Hey Ya” and the sleepy and seductive “The Prototype.”
3) T-Pain: While he took shots early on for being a Roger Troutman clone this Tallahasee, FL native’s impact on the hip-hop and R&B game is undeniable.
2) Cee-Lo Green & Lauryn Hill (tie): One of the original rapper-turnt-singers, Cee-Lo is among a select group of MCs who has enjoyed consistent critical and commercial success with his singing ability. Lauryn’s solo debut is a hip-hop classic but she’s gone A.W.O.L. (And bonkers) since.
1) Nate Dogg: From Ludacris’ “Area Codes” and Snoop’s “Ain’t No Fun” to Dre’s “Next Episode” he is Hip-Hop’s undisputed best hooker (R.I.P.). But clearly Akon doesn’t agree with me.
Blue Rasberry: This in-house female vocalists for the Wu-Tang clan can be heard on many of the Wu’s most popular songs including “Release Yo Delf” and “Rainy Dayz.”