Everybody knows that the Motor City is known for its cars and the Motown sound, but it’s also home to some great rappers. Detroit MC’s are a diverse group of artists who have unique stories and styles. They represent different parts of Detroit’s history, like Eminem or Zelooperz, who grew up on the east side; or Blade Icewood, who was born and raised in southwest Detroit near Mexicantown. So if you want to learn more about this underrepresented subset of hip-hop culture (and maybe get inspired to start your own career), read on!
1. J Dilla (1974–2006)
J Dilla (1974–2006) was a producer and rapper born in Detroit, Michigan. His first name was James Yancey. He died in Los Angeles, California. He worked with many famous rappers including Common, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Busta Rhymes.
Dilla released his first album in 2002 called “Welcome 2 Detroit” but it wasn’t until 2005 when he really started to make waves with his second album “The Shining”. This was followed by “Donuts” which was released posthumously after his death from Lupus complications in 2006 at age 32.
Eminem is one of the most successful rappers of all time.
Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in St. Joseph, Missouri, Eminem first rose to fame with his underground battle rap style and lyrical prowess—a skill that he put to good use on his debut album The Slim Shady LP. After releasing The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) and 8 Mile (2002), both driven by stories about his life in Detroit, he became an international superstar with 2003’s “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile—which has been ranked as one of Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs ever recorded by critics. Eminem has since won Grammys for Best Rap Album three times: for The Marshall Mathers LP in 2001; for Recovery in 2010; and for the 2013 compilation Shady XV featuring new music from several members of D12 including Bizarre who was featured on their song “Rap Game.”
Eminem’s influence over hip hop cannot be denied: He is responsible for helping launch careers like 50 Cent’s with “Wanksta” from Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (2003) as well as JAY Z by using songs such as “Renegade” featuring JAY Z which appeared on “The Blueprint.”
3. Sada Baby
Detroit rapper Sada Baby is a member of The Ville, a rap group that has released several mixtapes. He was born in Detroit and grew up on the east side of the city. His aggressive style of rap has been described as “hardcore hip-hop.”
In 2014, Sada Baby released his first solo mixtape entitled “The Power Of The Dollar”. In 2015 he also released another solo mixtape called “The Black Diamond.”
4. Big Sean
Big Sean was born in Detroit, Michigan and started rapping at age 12. He signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music in 2007, then released his debut album Finally Famous: The Album in 2011. In 2015, he released Dark Sky Paradise as a follow up album with songs such as One Man Can Change the World featuring Kanye West and All Your Fault featuring Kanye West & Ariana Grande.
5. Royce da 5’9″
Royce da 5’9″ is a rapper from Detroit. He’s part of Bad Meets Evil, Slaughterhouse, and PRhyme. His solo albums include Street Hop, Rock City (with DJ Premier), Death Is Certain, Layers, and Success Is Certain.
6. Kash Doll
Kash Doll is another rapper from Detroit who has made waves in the music industry. She’s collaborated with Eminem and Royce da 5’9″, and she performs with Big Sean at times. Her voice is distinct, often delivering catchy hooks and punchlines that are memorable. If you’re looking to listen to something more laid-back but still upbeat, Kash Doll may be the artist for you!
7. Icewear Vezzo
Born in October 31, 1989 as Chivez Smith in Detroit, Michigan, Vezzo has deep connections elsewhere in the Midwest, specifically Minnesota, where some of his close relatives and siblings formed the rap group Green Guyz. best known for his mixtape trilogy “The Clarity,” his first album, released in 2012.
In 2013 Icewear Vezzo released a follow up, The Clarity 2: Can’t Stop the Count, featuring “Money Phone.” That track, a breakout single, also appeared on his 2013 set The City Is Mine. The Clarity 3: Fully Blown landed on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart in 2014 and featured Vezzo’s Green Guyz cohort Webbo.
He was convicted of a felony gun charge in 2017 and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Prior to turning himself over to the authorities, he released a full-length album called Price Goin Up.
8. 42 Dugg
42 Dugg is a Detroit rapper whose stage presence and positive attitude have made him one of the city’s most beloved performers. He has released several mixtapes, including 42 Dugg Presents: The Return of the Plug, which was nominated for a 2010 Independent Hip Hop Award in the “Best Midwest Mixtape” category. In addition to releasing his own music, he has also appeared on tracks with other rappers such as DJ Moondog, Mike Posner and Tee Grizzley.
42 Dugg signed with Money Bag Records in 2015 and released his first album under their label titled “The Real Deal” later that year.
9. Obie Trice
Obie Trice was born in Detroit and grew up in the 7 Mile area. He is a talented rapper who has been around for a long time. Obie Trice has released many albums, including ‘Cheers,’ ‘Second Round’s on Me,’ and ‘Special Reserve.’
Obie Trice began rapping at age 15. His first major release came when he was signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label as part of Shady Records’ roster, along with 50 Cent and Eminem (according to Wikipedia). In fact, Eminem helped produce Obie Trice’s second album!
10. Boldy James
Boldy James was born in Detroit, Michigan and is a rapper signed to Roc Nation. He released his debut EP in 2014 and his debut album in 2015. His second album, ‘My First Chemistry Set,’ came out in 2018.
Esham is a rapper from Detroit who has been making music since the late 1980s. He’s best known for his horrorcore style, which blends elements of hip hop, rock and industrial music with satanic imagery. His albums are often full of dark themes and imagery. The first one to gain national attention was Boomin’ Words From Hell, released in 1992.
12. Trick Trick
Trick Trick is a rapper from Detroit who has been rapping since the early 90s. He is most known for his aggressive style of rap and has released many albums and mixtapes. He’s also a member of the group D12.
Trick Trick is best known for his work as a solo artist, but he also has worked with Eminem (Under Pressure) and Nelly (Country Grammar).
13. Danny Brown
Danny Brown is a Detroit rapper with a unique style. He has released five solo albums, including the critically acclaimed XXX, which was named in several year-end lists as one of the best albums of 2014. He also collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on “Kush Coma” from To Pimp a Butterfly, an album that won a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2016. Danny Brown is known for his lyricism and flow.
Bizarre is a rapper who’s been around for a while. Born in Detroit, he was introduced to Eminem and D12 by his cousin Proof. In fact, Bizarre was the first member of D12 to sign with Shady Records and released an album on the label called My Life in 2009. He also released two solo albums called Charizma & PBW: The Purple Tape (2000) and Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (2001).
Bizarre has been active on the underground hip hop scene since 1998 but has only worked with one major label: Interscope Records. His most popular song is “Purple Pills” from his debut album The Slim Shady LP (1999) featuring Dr. Dre and Eminem.
15. Illa J
Illa J is a rapper, singer, and producer from Detroit. He’s the younger brother of the late great J Dilla.
Illa J has collaborated with some of my favorite artists like De La Soul, Erykah Badu, and A Tribe Called Quest.
Zelooperz is a Detroit rapper born and raised in the Motor City. His name means “one who lives in a tent” in Arabic, though he’s not Muslim. He’s known for his hard hitting lyrics and was featured on many mixtapes before releasing his first full length album, The Creepshow (2011). In 2012, he released another album titled The Man Amongst Mountains on Black Nature Records that reached #2 on iTunes Hip Hop charts.
Zelooperz has been featured on several popular mixtapes including Big Sean’s “Detroit Kingz: Welcome To The Dopeness Vol 1″ which gained him national attention from media outlets such as XXL magazine and Complex Magazine where they ranked him number 46 on their list of best new artists of 2013 along with artists such as Drake & Kendrick Lamar.
17. King Gordy
- King Gordy is a rapper from Detroit who has been releasing music since 2001.
- He’s known for his nickname, the “Black Elvis.”
- King Gordy has released four studio albums and one EP in his career. His most recent album was released in 2017 and was called The Godfather of Flint, which won him his first Grammy nomination ever!
- He has been featured on several songs with Eminem over the years including “We All Die One Day,” where he performed together with D12, Royce Da 5’9″, Proof and Bizarre; “Let Me Hit That,” which features Royce Da 5’9″ and Kuniva of D12; “We Made You”; “F&CK Off”; “Not Afraid”; and more recently in 2018 when they worked together on a song titled “Dance With The Devil” featuring Yelawolf.
18. Big Herk
Big Herk was born in Detroit and started rapping at the age of 10. He first gained recognition for his work with Eminem and Royce da 5’9″, appearing on their group D12’s debut album Devil’s Night, as well as releasing several mixtapes.
In addition to being a rapper, Big Herk has been involved in acting, appearing in several movies and TV shows including The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), 8 Mile (2002), All Eyez On Me (2017), Straight Outta Compton (2015) and A Day In The Life Of A Child Soldier (2009).
19. Denaun Porter
Denaun Porter is a Detroit-born rapper, producer and songwriter known for his work with Eminem, D12, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and many more. He has produced over 100 songs and has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards.
Denaun Porter was born in Detroit on December 2nd 1971 as Desmond Young. In his childhood he moved to California where he studied music at High School Of Music And Art (HOMA). After graduation he started working in different studios around Los Angeles as a sound engineer which helped him to get recognized by many artists including [Eminem].
20. Black Milk
Black Milk is a rapper, producer, and songwriter born in Detroit. He is best known for his work with other Detroit artists such as Dwele and Phat Kat. Black Milk has been releasing music since 2003 and has released seven studio albums and one EP.
Black Milk’s debut album “No Poison No Paradise” was released in 2009 on Fat Beats Records, followed by “Tronic” (2011), “Album Of The Year” (2013) And most recently “FEVER” (2017). The latter two are produced by BADBADNOTGOOD which makes it sound like you’re listening to jazzy hip hop but still has an authentic Detroit feel to it! It’s something different than what you’ve heard before so give these tracks a listen!!
Kuniva (born Denard Porter) is a rapper and member of D12. He was born in Detroit in 1983, where he still resides today. He’s been a part of the group since 1997 and also released two solo albums. He’s also a member of other groups like Bad Meets Evil and Slaughterhouse.
Nivaa is known for his unique rapping style, which includes complex rhymes and multiple voices. He’s also known for his freestyle abilities and has been writing poetry since he was 13 years old.
Mastamind is a rapper from Detroit, who has released several solo albums and is also a member of D12. He has been nominated for several Grammy Awards.
In 1999, Mastamind released his first studio album “The Natural”, which featured production by Eminem and Dr. Dre. In 2000, he followed up with another album named after himself entitled “Masta”, which was produced by Dr. Dre and Eminem again.
Hush is a rapper from Detroit. He is a member of the group D12, and he also has worked with Royce da 5’9″ as part of Bad Meets Evil. He was born in Detroit in 1981. Hush has released four albums: Hush (2011), Eminem Presents: The Re-Up (2006), Bad Meets Evil (2003) and Straight From Detroit EP (2000).
He has also released a number of solo singles, including “Purple Pills” and “Fight Music.” Hush is currently signed to Shady Records and Aftermath Entertainment.
24. MC Breed (1971–2008)
MC Breed was born Anthony Henderson in Detroit, Michigan. He was the first rapper to be signed to the record label Jive Records. He released his debut album, The New Breed, in 1987 and became known for his single “Ain’t No Future In Yo’ Frontin”.
In 1991, he joined the group 2Pacalypse Now with D-Nice and Krazy D who had just left Naughty by Nature after their debut album hit #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The group released one album titled “2 Live Crew & The 2nd Coming” in 1991 then disbanded shortly after releasing their second album titled “The Real One” which did not have much success compared to their previous work with 2Pacalypse Now or as solo artists like MC Breed going gold with his next two albums: MC Breed & DFC (1993) going platinum with Fo Shizzle My Nizzle (1995).
MC Breed died suddenly due to complications from a gunshot wound sustained earlier that year while recording new music at 303 Studios in Detroit where he was shot multiple times by unknown assailants while sitting inside of a car outside of the studio waiting for someone else so they could go home together but never made it back alive because all his dreams had died there on that night…
Elzhi is a rapper from Detroit who was born in the 1980s. He was signed to Slum Village, a group founded by J Dilla and Baatin that produced many popular songs during the 90s and early 2000s. Elzhi is also a member of Dilla’s production team, which has created beats for Kid Rock and Eminem.
Elzhi released his first album, Lead Poison (2007), on T3 Records with the help of producer DJ House Shoes. He then released The Preface (2011) on Motown Records before signing a deal with Mello Music Group in 2013.
Elzhi has had some success as an MC but hasn’t yet reached mainstream stardom like many other rappers from Detroit have managed to do so far this century
26. Blade Icewood (1977–2005)
Blade Icewood was born in Detroit in 1977 and died in 2005, just two months shy of his 27th birthday. He was a member of The Dayton Family, who were known for their rapping and songwriting skills. Blade Icewood also had an affiliation with Eminem’s group D12 and performed with them on stage at the 2001 World Music Awards. He was a part of Slaughterhouse as well, which is made up of rappers including Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Royce da 5’9″ and Crooked I—all from New Jersey (like Blade).
27. Anybody Killa
Anybody Killa is a rapper from Detroit. Born Rory Ferreira, the artist has been rapping since the 1990s and released his first album in 1999. His debut came on Eminem’s Shady Records label, and he’s since collaborated with artists like D12 and Tech N9ne as well as releasing more than a dozen albums.
The rapper’s latest album is The Vent, which came out in 2017. He also has a new project called Rap Album Two on the way, which will feature artists like Pusha T, Juicy J, and more.
28. Guilty Simpson
Guilty Simpson is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan. His first major release was with D12 and appeared on their 1999 album Devil’s Night, performing under the name “Guilty.” He also released his debut solo album Rock on Detroit in 2008. Guilty has since been featured on tracks with artists like Eminem and Jay-Z.
In 2018, he released his album “Everybody Killa.” The rapper has been compared to Eminem and Tech N9ne for his unique style of rap musicIn December 2017, he released his second solo album The Big Bad featuring artists like Royce Da 5’9″ and Denaun Porter..
29. DeJ Loaf
DeJ Loaf (born Jasmine Van den Bogaerde) is a rapper and singer from Detroit, Michigan. She was born on October 29th, 1992 to parents who are both Dutch immigrants. She has released two studio albums and one mixtape since 2013. Her most recent album “Glo” was released in November 2017.
Her first single, “Try Me,” which peaked at number 86 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and reached number 26 on Billboard’s Rhythmic Songs chart in 2015 made her the first female rapper from Detroit to reach such heights with an original song since 1967 when Gwen McCrae released “Rockin’ Chair.” Her second single “Fuck It Up” was released later that year followed by her mixtape “Sell Sole” which she put out independently in 2014 with only 300 copies printed up at first but later re-released through iTunes in 2016 as well as Tidal Music where it was streamed over 150 million times worldwide within three months of its release date taking into consideration only listeners who have paid subscriptions or have been using free trials – making it one of the top ten most listened-to songs ever according to Spotify data!
30. Jamie Madrox
Jamie Madrox is a Detroit rapper who has been making music since the 1990s. He is a member of D12, alongside Eminem and Proof. Jamie Madrox has released several solo albums and also produced tracks for other artists.
His most recent solo album, “The One” was released in 2011. The album featured a number of guest appearances including Bizarre and Eminem.
Jamie Madrox is also a member of the group Twiztid, alongside Jamie Spaniolo. The duo formed in 1995 and released their first album, “Mostasteless” in 1996. This album featured several guest appearances including Insane Clown Posse members Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J.
31. Fatt Father
Fatt Father is a rapper from Detroit. He is a member of the hip hop group Fat Killahz, along with fellow Detroit-based rapper Fatt Father and producer 727.
Fatt Father has gained considerable popularity throughout the Midwest region and collaborated with many other artists such as Royce Da 5’9″ on the song “Detroit vs. Everybody”. He also appeared on Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 album on two songs: “Bitch Bad” and “Made in America”.
32. Will Youmans
Will Youmans is a rapper from Detroit. He was born in 1987 and is signed to Eardrum Records. He is a member of the group The Left Ones and has released two albums: The Left Ones (2012) and The Left Ones 2 (2013).
Will Youmans grew up on the east side of Detroit, Michigan, where he began rapping at age 15 after being inspired by groups like Slum Village and Common Market. His first album, entitled The Left Ones, was released on Eardrum Records in 2012; it featured guest appearances from Black Milk, Danny Brown and Guilty Simpson. In 2013 he released his second album called “The Left Ones 2,” which featured Rapper Big Pooh, Dezert Eez & Fat Ray
33. Ondre C. Moore
- Ondre C. Moore is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan and a member of the group D12. He is known by his stage name “Bizarre”, which he used when recording with the group.
- His solo albums include The Adventures of Bizarre (released in 2005) and The Last Dragon (released in 2017).
Moore has also been a part of several other groups, including The Dirty Dozen and Psychopathic Rydas. He is known for his time on the reality series “BET’s Rap City” where he was featured as a co-host.
Waajeed is one of the most prolific producers in Detroit hip hop. He was born and raised in Michigan, but moved to New York City for college. After graduating from college, he moved back to Detroit, where he became a founding member of Slum Village. He is also known for producing music for many other artists including J Dilla, Phat Kat, Guilty Simpson and Elzhi.
In 2009, Young RJ was diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He underwent treatment for the disease, but it returned in 2011. After discovering that his cancer had spread to his brain and spine, Young RJ decided to stop chemotherapy treatments.
He died on February 23, 2012 at the age of 40. He was survived by his mother, father, sister and two children.
35. Phat Kat
Phat Kat was born in Detroit, and has spent his entire life there. He is a producer, rapper, and beatmaker who has collaborated with the likes of Eminem, Common & The Roots. Phat Kat has also released two solo albums on his own label called Chop Shop Records (which he founded in 2002).
As an MC, Phat Kat is most known for being part of D12 (who he joined at age 15) as well as being affiliated with other Detroit rap groups such as The Ummah (with J Dilla), The Legendary K.O. Crew and more recently Bizarre Incorporated.
When it comes to beats—and production in general—Phat Kat can’t be touched by anyone else from Detroit or anywhere else: he helped pioneer a genre called ghettotech that’s now heard everywhere from South Africa to Paris; many consider him one of hip hop’s greatest producers period; even after retiring from rapping full-time around 2010 because of health concerns related to diabetes Type 1 diagnosis…
36. DJ Clay
DJ Clay is a Detroit-based DJ, producer and rapper. He has produced for Eminem, Royce Da 5’9″ and others. He is a member of the group D12 (which includes Eminem), with whom he has released three albums: Devil’s Night Mixtape in 2002; D12 World in 2004; and Shady XV in 2014. He also released his debut solo album My Turn to Eat in 2010 which featured guest appearances from Bizarre and Eminem among others. DJ Clay released his second solo album Coolaid on July 29th 2017 with features including Obie Trice , King Gordy & more!
If you’re a fan of Detroit rap, then Champtown is one of the first names that comes to mind. He’s not only one of the most prolific rappers from the city, he also has a distinct sound.
Champtown has released a number of mixtapes and albums since 2004, including his 2016 album The Soundtrack To My Life. His most recent release was in 2017 with self-titled album The Mixtape Kid, but his music continues to influence young artists around Detroit today.
He collaborated with other Detroit acts such as Danny Brown and Big Herk on tracks like “The Haddaway,” which features Champtown’s signature gravelly voice over an upbeat beat reminiscent of classic 90s hip hop tunes like Snoop Dogg’s 1993 hit single “Gin & Juice.”
Teejayx6 is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan. He is also a member of the Detroit hip hop group Slum Village. Teejayx6 has released two solo albums; My Life in the Ghetto (2015) and Pimpin Ain’t Dead (2016). He has also been nominated for several awards, most notably Best New Artist at the BET Awards in 2017.
Teejayx6 is also known for his stage name, “Pimp C.” He was born on March 14th, 1992 in Detroit, Michigan and attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 2007. While attending school there he began to develop his skills as a rapper. After graduating high school at age 18, Teejayx6 decided to pursue a career in music professionally.
Rosa Parks Shay Gooph- Shay Gooph – . #vydia pic.twitter.com/vKE8B4eJq3— The Family⭕️ (@thefamily4620) March 5, 2020
39. Detroit is underrepresented in mainstream rap music, but there are a lot of talented rappers who were born and raised in Detroit.
While it’s true that Detroit is underrepresented in mainstream rap music, there are a lot of talented rappers who were born and raised in the city. Eminem is one of the most famous rappers to come out of Detroit. Other notable artists include Sada Baby (who was featured on Drake’s “Draft Day”), Big Sean (who also hails from Cleveland), Royce da 5’9″ (also from Detroit), Kash Doll and 42 Dugg (two female rappers who’ve been making waves lately).
So, there you have it! A comprehensive list of Detroit rappers. Who did we miss?