While most rap and hip-hop artists have traditionally been black, white rappers have found major success in the industry since the 80s.
Today, we’ll talk about some of these amazing rappers. I’ve left off some of the most famous white rappers like Eminem, Vanilla Ice, and The Beastie Boys off this list since they’re household names. Instead, let’s focus on top white rappers you thought were black.
1. Aesop Rock
Aesop Rock is often seen as one of the most complex rhymers in history. Using over 7,800 unique words throughout his albums, not many other rappers come close to his lyrical skills.
As a NY Native Aesop Rock found success in the underground music scene in New York City in the late 80s. Today he’s still producing records for Rhymesayers entertainment and recently released collaboration albums such as Malibu Ken and Hail Mary Mallon.
While El-P was originally for his amazing production skills, his rhyming skills are just as good. He uses an aggressive rhyming pattern to get his politically charged lyrics across.
He released 4 solo studio albums that saw limited success. It wasn’t until he joined up with Killer Mike in 2013 that his career went to the moon. Run the Jewels saw massive critical and commercial acclaim with their first album, Run the Jewels. Since their first release, Run the Jewels offers all their albums for free online.
Raised in Tennesse, Yelawolf’s rhymes and tracks have a uniquely southern style. He cites artists like Run-DMC Outkast, J. Dilla, and Pete Rock as some of his biggest influences.
Throughout his early career, Yelawolf moved around from label to label. He found mainstream success in 2010 with the release of the Trunk Muzik EP. From here, he would join Eminem’s label Shady Records.
Recently Yelawolf has released collaborations with major stars like Machine Gun Kelly, Ed Sheeran, and Travis Barker.
4. R.A. The Rugged Man
R.A. The Rugged Man has been rapping since the age of 12. A New York native, R.A. worked with Mobb Deep, The Notorious B.I.G, and Chuck D. in his early career.
Known for his lyrical skills and ability to alter his flow, R.A. was well respected throughout the underground hip-hop community. Unfortunately, rumors hurt his career throughout the 2000s.
Recently, R.A saw a resurgence in popularity. The Rugged Man released All My Heroes Are Dead in 2020 to critical acclaim.
5. Lil Dicky
Rapper Comedian Lil Dicky rose to prominence after releasing his first track, Ex-Boyfriend, in 2013 on YouTube.By 2015, Lil Dicky released his first album, Professional Rapper.
Lil Dicky found worldwide success for his collaboration with Chris Brown in 20180. Freaky Friday, reached over 100 million views on YouTube and topped the New Zealand and UK charts.
Thanks to his experience as a comedian, Lil Dicky uses clever jokes and relatable content in his rhymes. He strives to remove the egotistical nature of rap culture and make it more accessible.
Macklemore is a Seattle native and started rapping in the early 2000s. He saw massive success in 2013 with Thrift Shop, a duet with Ryan Lewis.
Thrift Shop went on to win four Grammy Awards in 2014 including Best New Artist, and Best Rap Album. Macklemore and Lewis went on to record a second studio album in 2016 that reached #4 on the Billboard 200.
Since 2017, Macklemore produces as a solo artist. He release Gemini in 2017 and continues to tour and produce new music today.
Prof is a rapper and songwriter from Minneapolis. He saw limited underground success in the early 2000s and signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment in 2013.
At Rhymesayers, Prof released two critically acclaimed albums, Liability, and Pookie Baby. While never reaching major commercial success, Prof is still a prominent name in underground hip hop throughout the United States.
In 2020, Prof signed with Stophouse Music Group and release his latest album titled Powerderhor Suites.
8. Action Bronson
While he may be more popular thanks to his TV shows, Action Bronson is an accomplished and talented rapper.
A native of New York City, Bronson released his first album, Dr. Lecter, in 2011. He finally landed a major label deal in 2012 when he joined Goliath Artists.
Bronson has gone on to release seven studio albums since 2011. While never reaching commercial success, the artist is critically acclaimed. In 2011, Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan cited Bronson as “one of the best rappers alive.”
9. Brother Ali
From the age of eight, Brother Ali knew he wanted to be a rapper. Born with albinism and legally blind, Ali did not let his disabilities stop his dreams.
In 2000, Brother Ali released his first studio album, Rites of Passage, on Rhymesayers. Since then, Ali released six more studio albums, 2 mixtapes, and 4 EPs.
Known to be political and an activist, Ali often incorporates lyrics concerning social justice, racial inequality, and criticism of the United States government.
As a founding member of Atmosphere, Slug is one of the most influential white rappers in history. Along with Anthony Davis, Musab Saad, and Brent Sayers, the group founded the independent record label Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Atmosphere released 12 albums since 1997. While never reaching global superstar status, Atmosphere is extremely influential in the underground hip-hop scene.
As a founder of Rhymesayers, Slug has helped countless rappers succeed. Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Prof, and Eyedea are all rappers on this list that owe much of their success to Rhymesayers.
11. Sage Francis
Sage Francis is a rapper and label owner from Providence, RI. Influenced by Run DMC and Public Enemy, Francis knew from an early age that he wanted to be a rapper. By the age of 12, he was competing in rap battles.
Over five studio albums and eight mixtapes, Francis delivers potent rhymes that serve as social commentary on today’s world. Francis is a social activist and started KnowMore.Org to encourage responsible consumerism from consumers and corporations.
12. 3rd Bass
3rd Bass was the first mixed-race rap group to find underground commercial success. While the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice were more popular, 3rd Bass was rocking the underground in the late 80s and early 90s.
The group features white rappers MC Serch and Pete Nice along with DJ Richie Rich. The trio found success on their first studio album, The Cactus Album. The album featured Stepping to the AM and The Gas Face. Both tracks were underground hits during the 1990s.
13. Bubba Sparxxx
Southern rapper Bubba Sparxxx found success with his unique blend of hip hop, pop, and country music in the 2000s. This Georgia native recorded his debut album in 2001.
Sparxx recorded his first big hit, Deliverance, in 2003. The album featured production from Timbaland and went on to reach 22 on the US Rap Songs Billboard chart.
By 2007, Sparxx started his record label, Backroad Records. In 2016, Sparxx joined fellow southern rapper Yelawolf on his label Slumerican.
14. Young Black Teenagers
While the name might confuse you, Young Black Teenagers were a white rap band in the early 1990s. The group consisted of New Yorkers ATA, First Born, Tommy Never, Kamron, and DJ Skribble.
With support from Public Enemy, Young Black Teenagers signed to MCA Records and released their first studio album. The group had one small hit. Thanks to massive play on MTV, Tap the Bottle reached number 5 on the US Rap Charts and gained YBT a platinum record.
A one-hit-wonder, the group broke up in 1994.
15. Paul Wall
Paul Wall is a rapper and DJ from Houston, TX. He initially found success on the record label, Swishahouse.
Wall worked closely with Chamillionaire at Swishahouse. The duo released a massively successful mixtape titled Choppin Em Up Part 2 in 1999.
BY 2005, Wall released his first solo album, The People’s Champ. Reaching number one on the Billboard 200, Wall finally found commercial success. Since then, Paul Wall recorded 11 more studio albums.
16. MC Chris
MC Chris is a pioneer of the nerdcore sub-genre of hip hop. This American rapper, comedian, and voice actor uses a high pitch tone, geek culture lyrics, and gangster-style during his tracks
MC Chris started his career working as a voice actor for Adult Swim. He worked on hits like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021 during this time.
Chris focuses on nerd culture and themes during his raps. During an MC Chris performance, you’ll hear references to Star Wars, role-playing games, science fiction, and fantasy worlds.
Born in West Germany, Cage grew up in Middletown, New York. He is a prolific underground rapper and is a founding member of the hip-hop supergroup, The Weathermen.
Throughout the 1990s, Cage worked with Pete Nice. During this time, Cage found success in the NYC underground hip hop scene and worked with Necro, El-P, and KMD.
Cage signed to Fondle ‘Em Record in 1997 and found limited success. His album, Porn Again, reached #43 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart.
Logic is a rapper and producer from Maryland. He started his career by releasing mixtapes in 2010. His Young Sinatra mixtape series helped Logic secure a record deal with Def Jam Recordings.
At Def Jam, Logic released two albums that both reached the top five on the US Billboard 200. His third album, Everybody, found even more success and hit #1 in the United States.
Throughout the 2000s, Logic worked with other major artists including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole.
19. The Streets
Not all rappers are American. The UK has a long history with hip hop and underground dance music. The Streets combined their unique English rhyming techniques with house and garage beats.
The Streets’ debut album, Original Pirate Material, found worldwide success and received nominations for British Album of the Year and British Breakthrough Act in 2003.
The group went on to record 4 more albums until The Streets took a hiatus in 2011. The Streets reconnected in 2017 to release two new singles.
G-Eazy started his rapping career as a producer. He gained some fame working with Lil B and Crohn early in his career. By 2010, G-Eazy found himself on stage opening for Lik Wayne and Snoop Dogg.
G-Eazy finally saw major commercial success in 2014 with his major-label debut, These Things Happen. His follow-up album, When It’s Dark Out, was a massive success as well. The album features collaborations with Big Sean, Too $hort, Chris Brown, and Keyshia Cole.
21. Dirt Nasty
Best known for his work with Mickey Avalon and starring in The Scary Movie Franchise, Dirt Nasty has been rapping since 2005.
After working on MTV as a VJ and limited TV show appearance, Dirt Nasty began rapping in 2005 after joining the rap group Dyslexic Speedreaders. Along with Mickey Avalon and Andre Legacy, the group released their biggest hit, My Dick, the same year.
In 2007, Dirt Nasty released his first solo album that featured rude, lewd, and comedic lyrics. Recently, Dirt Nasty worked with Diplo and Riff Raff on an EP for Mad Decent Records.
Eyedea was an American rapper from Saint Paul, MN. Eyedea first found success when he won Scribble Jam in 1999. This freestyle competition gave him the exposure needed to expand his career.
After declining a contract from P. Diddy, Eyedea went on to work with Rhymesayers. Here, he found success and collaborated with fellow white rappers Atmosphere, Sage Francis, and Aesop Rock.
Noted for his ability to freestyle, many critics describe the 1999 Scribble Jam as the greatest freestyle rap battle of all time.
Unfortunately, Eyedea passed away in 2010.
Matisyahu is a Jewish-American rapper and reggae singer from Pennsylvania. The singer rose to prominence in 2005 with the release of King Without a Crown.
Matisyahu’s style combines a variety of influences including African, dancehall, reggae, Judaism hazzan, and hip hop.
In 2005, Matisyahu performed a guest spot with Phish and then opened for Dave Matthews Band in 2006. This springboarded his career and by 2006, he was touring internationally.
Matisyahu released 7 studio and 5 live albums since 2004.
24. Buck 65
Buck 65 proves Canadians can rap as well. This native from Novia Scotia is an alternative hip hop legend. Incorporating sounds from a variety of genres, Buck 65’s music feels like a mix of blues, country, rock, and hip hop.
Buck 65 started his career in the 90s and worked under many different stage names during the era. He finally had his big break in 2002 after signing to Warner Music Canada and releasing his first major-label album.
A prolific artist, Buck 65 released 14 albums since 1994.
25. Yung Gravy
Finding success in the 2010s on Soundcloud, Yung Gravy is now a certified platinum artist. This Minnesota native uses comedy, trap basslines, and retro samples to create a unique rhyming and rap style.
His YouTube and Soundcloud success found the attention of major labels and Yung Gravy signed with Republic in 2018. In 2019, Gravy’s debut album, Sensational, found commercial success and nearly hit the top 50 on the Billboard 200.
Gravy often samples funk and soul music from the 1970s. Combined with harder trap beats, his tunes have a unique groove.
26. Riff Raff
Riff Raff is a Houston rapper. He began his career with Swishahouse records after exposure on MySpace and YouTube.
After a move to Los Angeles, Riff Raff began working with Dirt Nasty on several tracks. From here, he signed to Mad Decent in 2012. His Album Jody Highroller featured guest spots from Skrillex, Usher, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, and Rusko.
Since then, Riff Raff made a major impact at Mad Decent.
English isn’t the only language for rapping. SCH is a French rapper and songwriter. Born in Marseille, Julien Schwarzer started rapping at 15. In 2015, the rapper’s first live appearance was on Lacrim’s mixtape, R.I.P.R.O Volume 1.
Produced by Katrina Squad, SCH’s first mixtape went on to sell over 68,000 copies in 2015. From here he signed with Def Jam France and released 5 studio albums over his career.
Now a major force in French Hip Hop, each of his albums reached the top 5 on the French charts.
As the first non-black member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Remedy has the resume to back up this position.
Born and raised in Staten Island, Remedy was childhood friends with other Wu-Tang members including Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Raekwon. Remedy also performed on Wu-Tang’s album, Wu-Tang-Killa Bees: The Swarm.
As a solar artist, Remedy runs Code Red Entertainment, where he’s released solo albums and worked with other artists including Cappadonna.
29. MC Paul Barman
MC Paul Barman is a nerdcore rapper from Ridgewood, NJ. Rapping since 19980, Barman released his debut EP, It’s Very Stimulating, in 2000.
He went on to record three new albums. While his songs are the foundation of nerdcore rap, Barman also recorded several underground hip-hop tracks. Collaborations with MF Doom gave MC Paul Barman some street cred during his career.
30. The Alchemist
The Alchemist has been rapping since the early 90s. He rose to prominence after working with Dilated Peoples and Mobb Deep during the 90s and early 2000s. This California native is often cited as one of the best producers in the industry.
While known more for his studio production, The Alchemist has an extensive rap career as well. he’s released 3 studio albums and 6 mixtapes. He also collaborated with countless artists including Curren$y, Action Bronson, and Freddie Gibbs.
Today, The Alchemist is touring as Eminem’s official DJ.
Necro is a prolific rapper and producer from Brooklyn, New York. He started his career in a death metal band but switched to rap in 1988.
As a self-taught musician, Necro started his label, Psycho+Logical Records in 1999. On the label eight solo albums. As a producer, he’s worked with Ill Bill, Mr. Hyde, Goretex, and Kool G Rap.
Necro describes his musical style as horrorcore. This sub-genre of hip hop has death metal influences and often violent lyrics.
Best White Rappers You Thought Were Black, Final Thoughts
While Eminem takes most of the spotlight, white rappers are an important part of hip-hop culture, even though some of them often get mistaken for being black rappers. Since the 80s, white rappers created many iconic tracks.
We hope we included a diverse selection of rappers for you to check out on your search to find new music. If we missed your favorite white rapper, we’d love to hear about them.