Latinxs have been there at the inception of hip hop. They contributed to its birth and growth despite not being acknowledged for it. In an effort to highlight Latinx contributions to hip hop, and showcase excellence that people might not know is ours, we rounded 27 Afro-Latinx you need to be listening to now. Some you might already know, while others will be a total surprise! Regardless, they’ll all make you proud of what they have given to the culture. Check them out and thank us later!
With over 20 years in the rap game, six albums (including the upcoming The One), eight hits on Billboard’s Hot 100, and a starring role on Love & Hip Hop: Miami, Trina has made a name for herself as one of the biggest female rappers of all time. But did you know the Miami-native is Afro-Latinx? Yes! Trina is Dominican, from her father’s side.
Born Victor Santiago, Jr., N.O.R.E. made it a point to shout out his Afro-Puerto Rican identity in his music, style, and videos. He was ahead of his time when he shifted his focus to reggaeton and helped to popularize the now-major music genre in the U.S. with hits like “Oye Mi Canto.” This led to the 2006 Spanish and English album N.O.R.E. y la Familia…Ya Tú Sabe.
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Latinx rap group Cypress Hill was just honored with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The South Gate, L.A. hip hop trio, who has sold over 20 million records, includes Afro-Cuban rapper Sen Dog (born Senen Reyes). The group set themselves apart when they first hit the scene in the ’90s, rapping in both English and Spanish, and were the first Latin-American rap group to go platinum and multi-platinum in the U.S.
A lot of musical genres, if not all of them, started with Black music and Black roots. Reggaeton’s roots can be traced back to Jamaica (Jamaican reggae and later Jamaican dancehall) and Panama before the music traveled to Puerto Rico. One of the OG’s of the genre is Tego Calderon. The Afro-Puerto Rican Latin Grammy and ASCAP Latin Music Award winner has had several hits, including “Intro Los 12 Discipulos,” “Amigo Mio,” and “Masucamba.”
Mellow Man Ace
Another Afro-Latinx bilingual rapper who made his mark in Hip hop, as well as being part of the creation of Latino rap, is Mellow Man Ace. Known as the Godfather of Latin Rap, Ace, born Ulpiano Sergio Reyes is an Afro-Cuban rapper, and brother to Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog. In fact, Mellow Man Ace was a part of the beginnings of what became Cypress Hill, before deciding to go solo. Check out “Mentirosa,” his Billboard Hot 100 hit here.
Cardi B stepped on the scene and almost overnight took the world by storm. Born Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, the Afro-Dominican-Trinidadian rapper first made a name for herself for showing off her honest and in-your-face attitude on her Instagram account and later on the reality show, Love & Hip Hop: New York (from 2015-2017). Cardi was making music before dropping the 2017 hit single, “Bodak Yellow,” but the jam, however, put her on the map, and helped make Cardi B a star.
David Lawrence Brewster, Jr., better known as Dave East, is an Afro-Dominican rapper from New York. The songwriter and actor got into the rap game in 2010, and has released one album, and four mixtapes that have charted on the Billboard 200 chart (in addition to other releases): Paranoia: A True Story (2017), Kairi Chanel (2016), Karma 2 (2018), P2/Paranoia 2 (2018), and Beloved (2018).
Another rapper who you may not know is Afro-Latinx is Princess Nokia. The artist, born Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, is Afro-Nuyorican and references her culture in her music. Getting her start on SoundCloud and YouTube, Nokia went on to release three albums, Metallic Butterfly, 1992 Deluxe, and A Girl Cried Red.
You may know Harlem native LaRon Louis James better by his rap name, Juelz Santana. The rapper appeared on several hit songs, from Chris Brown’s “Run It,” to Cam’ron’s “Oh Boy.” Did you know that he’s Afro-Latinx? His stage name may give it away, but Santana is Afro-Dominican (Dominican on his father’s side). In addition to being a rapper, Juelz has appeared on the reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York.
Afro-Mexican rapper Kid Cudi was born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi. The Cleveland native is also a singer, producer, songwriter, model, actor, music video director, and guitarist. He is the son of an Afro-Mexican father and African-American mother. Some of Cudi’s hits include “Day ‘N’ Nite,” “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare),” and “Erase Me.”
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Mi lista de Clásicos del Reggaetón ya está disponible en @Deezer! Escúchala y déjame saber en los comentarios cuál es tu favorita! #Repost @deezerlatino: La super estrella del reggaeton, @DonOmar hizo una selección de los mejores clásicos del género para que lo bailes, disfrutes y recuerdes buenos momentos. 💫🔥 Te dejamos el link en nuestra bio ⬆
Many consider Afro-Puerto Rican rapper Don Omar the King of Reggaeton. In fact, his tour with Daddy Yankee was called The Kingdom Tour. His nicknames include El Rey and King of Kings of Reggaeton Music. When reggaeton blew up in the U.S. during the ’00s, Don Omar was at the forefront, and ever since, he has dropped several hits, including “Dile,” “Reggaeton Latino,” “Dutty Love,” and “Danza Kaduro.” But despite his success as an artist he also recently found himself in some controversy earlier this year after making homophobic statements about reggaeton artist Ozuna.
Prince Whipper Whip
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#3 #LatinosInHipHop #LatinExcellence #PrinceWhipperWhip is the first #Latin #emcee to grace the mic from the Bronx N.Y. of #PuertoRican #descendant. In 1978, he joined the group The Mighty Gestapo Crew, alongside Dot-A-Rock, DJ Kenny B, Count D, and The Funky Phase Four MCs. Whip and Dot-A-Rock battled The Notorious 2 (Grandmaster Caz and JDL) at the Intersession Church in Harlem. Whip and Dot were original members of the Cold Crush Brothers and more well known as members of The Fantastic Romantic 5. The Fantastic 5 released the single “Can I Get A Soul Clap” in 1980 on Tuff City Records. They never recorded an album, but they appeared in the film #WildStyle #LegendsInHipHop #Pioneers #MicCheckas #HipHop #Rap #Rapper #OriginalEmcee #LatinMicCheckas @whipperwhip #Salute #ILLBEAST #BIGEARLPROMO
Prince Whipper Whip, born James Whipper II, was an original member of the rap group, Grandwizard Theodore & the Fantastic Five (as was fellow Puerto Rican Ruby Dee (Rubin Garcia); the group was also known as the Fantastic Romantic 5, and the Fantastic Freaks). According to Amoeba, Whip was also a member of The Mighty Gestapo, Salt and Pepper MCs, and the Cold Crush Brothers.
Members of The Mean Machine
Mean Machine has the distinction of being one of the first bilingual rap groups ever, and possibly the first Latino rap group, rapping in both English and Spanish. The Puerto Rican group made up of Mr. Schick (Daniel Rivera), DJ Julio (Steven Santiago), Mr. Nice (Jose Semprit), and Jimmy Mac (James Mclean). The final lineup in 1979, released the first Spanglish rap song ever, 1981’s “Disco Dream.”
Next, on our list of successful and inspiring Latinxs who you didn’t know are Latinx is super producer Swizz Beatz. Also known as Kaseem Dean, the also rapper, entrepreneur, and DJ has produced big hits including T.I.’s “Bring ‘Em Out,” and Jay-Z’s “On to the Next One.” He’s also Afro-Latinx! His mother is Puerto Rican, Afro-Jamaican, and Irish.
Brooklyn born rapper AZ is also Afro-Latino. Also known as Anthony Cruz, the Afro-Dominican artist is a member of The Firm, with Nas, Foxy Brown, Nature, and Cormega. He has released over 15 albums and is the only rapper to feature on Nas’ iconic album Illmatic (on the song “Life’s a B*tch”).
If you were yelling out “G G G G Unit!” in the 2000s, then you probably know who rapper Lloyd Banks is. Born Christopher Charles Lloyd, he was a member of G-Unit, alongside 50 Cent, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck (other members later joined the group). The Afro-Puerto Rican also achieved success with his solo debut album, The Hunger for More; it debuted at #1 and spawned the #1 hit, “On Fire.” Banks has a total of five songs that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Kevin Jerome Gilyard, known professionally as Kevin Gates, is another rapper who you may not have known is Afro-Latinx. The Louisiana native is Afro-Puerto Rican. After releasing a number of mixtapes, he dropped his debut album, Islah, in 2016, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart. Gates also has seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
You might have caught him on the reality show Love & Hip Hop: Miami, but in watching, you probably didn’t know that rapper Gunplay is Afro-Latino. Richard Morales, Jr. is Afro-Puerto Rican, born in El Paso, Texas, and hailing from Carol City, Florida. Gunplay’s latest album is ACTIVE, released in 2018.
One of the newer rappers on the scene is Maluca Mala, born Natalie Ann Yepez. Washington Heights raised her, but her roots are all Afro-Dominican. Her music surfs along the genres of experimental tropical punk, electro, ghettotech, and hip house. Maluca’s debut EP, released in 2009, is entitled El Tigeraso.
Vince Staples is an Afro-Latinx rapper who hails from Compton, California. The 25-year-old artist already has three studio albums under his belt: Summertime ’06 (2015), Big Fish Theory (2017), and FM! (2018). Artists Staples has collaborated with include Common, Ty Dolla Sign, A$AP Rocky, Hans Zimmer, Jhené Aiko, and Donald Glover.
A lot of rappers get their start by creating and releasing indie mixtapes. Such is the case for Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly, a.k.a Rico Nasty. The Afro-Latinx has released several mixtapes — Summer’s Eve (2014), The Rico Story (2016), Sugar Trap (2016), Tales of Tacobella (2017), Sugar Trap 2 (2017), Nasty (2018), and Anger Management (2019) —which have led to her becoming signed by Atlantic Records.
The next Afro-Latinx rapper on our list is Joell Ortiz. The Brooklyn native’s debut album, The Brick: Bodega Chronicles, was released in 2007, followed by several albums, including Free Agent in 2011, House Slippers in 2014, and Mona Lisa (with Apollo Brown) in 2018. Once signed to Aftermath Entertainment, the Puerto Rican artist has collaborated with Big Daddy Kane, Akon, Immortal Technique, The Alchemist, Styles P, Royce da 5’9,” and more.
Royce Cornell Davison is the next Afro-Latino rapper in our roundup. You may know him better as the artist Ugly God. Davison was born in Indiana to Afro-Dominican parents but has spent most of his life in Houston, Texas. Although his aim was to be a computer engineer, and he attended the University of Southern Mississippi, music proved too strong a force that led him to become a professional rapper instead. His debut mixtape is 2017’s The Booty Tape.
You may have been yelling out “ballin’!” in the 2000s as well. That’s all thanks to rapper and music director Jim Jones and his 2006 platinum hit song “We Fly High.” Born Joseph Guillermo Jones II, Jim is Afro-Puerto Rican, and also a member of the group The Diplomats (a.k.a. Dipset) with fellow Afro-Latinx Juelz Santana.
Latin Grammy-nominated artist Danay Suarez is an Afro-Cubana R&B singer and rapper, whose work lives within the genres of Hip hop, bolero, reggaeton, jazz, and world music. She is featured on Karol G’s album Ocean, on the song “Yo Aprendi,” and collaborated with Stephen Marley, who sings for the first time in Spanish, on her album, Palabras Manuales.
Another female Afro-Latinx rapper who is gaining attention in the music world is Bia, a.k.a. Perico Princess. Born Bianca Landrau, Bia is Afro-Puerto Rican and hails from Medford/Boston Massachusetts. She appeared on the reality show, Sisterhood of Hip Hop; and released a mixtape entitled #CHOLASEASON in 2014, and an EP entitled Nice Girls Finish Last: Cuidado, in 2018. Bia has collaborated with T.I., J Balvin, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and Kali Uchis, among other artists.
Nitzia Scott, known in the rap world as Nitty Scott, is an Afro-Puerto Rican, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and raised in Orlando, Florida. She now calls Brooklyn home, where she focuses on her rap career. Some of her work, which shouts out her Afro-Latinidad, includes her EP, The Boombox Diaries, Vol. 1, released in 2012, and solo albums, The Art of Chill (2014), and CREATURE! (2017).