In the vibrant world of hip hop, rap and soulful vocals have given rise to a new breed of musical superstars. Many lyricists have mastered the art of incorporating their singing voices into music. They have gone beyond perfect rhyme schemes and arrangements to captivate audiences with melodies that linger long after the beats die down. Emcees and R&B singers used to work in separate subgenres for the most part, but modern artists bravely crossover more often to show that rappers can be just as melodic as their counterparts.
This phenomenon can be traced back to rap’s earlier days with iconic figures like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Wyclef Jean, Nate Dogg and Queen Latifah. Their skill in fusing the two opened doors for a new wave of musicians who do the same more frequently today.
Without further ado, check out 10 rappers who’ve demonstrated they are talented singers and lyricists!
1. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill, who has demonstrated incredible versatility throughout her distinguished career, has left a lasting impression as a pioneer in both singing and rap. Hill first rose to fame as a member of the renowned hip hop trio The Fugees. The group’s success was greatly influenced by Hill’s ability to write lyrics and sing with a unique voice. Her breakthrough solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is a groundbreaking masterpiece that seamlessly fuses hip hop, R&B and soul.
Melodic verses and soulful vocals are skillfully combined in songs like “Lost Ones” and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” to create a distinctive and profound sound. Her timeless influence on the music industry is evident in songs like “Everything Is Everything” and “Ex-Factor,” which have inspired innumerable musicians who still admire her innovative undertaking to blend genres.
2. Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott is a trailblazing force in the music industry who has carved out an unmatched niche. Elliott distinguished herself early in her career with an unconventional and eccentric style. Her debut solo album, Supa Dupa Fly, showcased her smooth blend of R&B and hip hop and propelled her into stardom. In addition to exhibiting her amazing rapping abilities, songs like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and “Sock It 2 Me” displayed her soulful vocal range. Elliott broke barriers with hits like “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It,” captivating listeners with her dynamic flow and creative production.
It is undeniable that the star has had a profound impact on both rap and R&B. She is considered a true icon due to her inventive spirit and genre-defying style.
3. Ja Rule
Ja Rule, a prominent figure in the early 2000s rap scene, established himself by fusing hip hop and R&B elements. Known for his unique raspy voice, he became widely recognized for hits like the chart-topping collaboration “Always On Time” with Ashanti, which highlighted his melodic hooks and effortless delivery. Tracks like “Livin’ It Up” and “Mesmerize,” in which he cleverly combined catchy choruses with rhythmic verses, also showcased his versatility as a rapper and singer.
The period of rap and R&B crossovers marked the peak of Ja Rule’s career and cemented his reputation as a hitmaker. His influence on the music scene in the early 2000s is indisputable; his ability to seamlessly combine singing and rapping left an everlasting imprint.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Nelly made his musical debut in the early 2000s and immediately became well-known as a gifted rapper. The title track from his breakthrough album, Country Grammar — which showcased Nelly’s harmonious hooks and Southern-influenced flow — went on to become a huge hit. With smashes like “Ride Wit Me” and “E.I.,” Nelly skillfully combined catchy melodies with rap, which cemented his place at the top of the charts and continued the crossover success.
Joining forces with Kelly Rowland on “Dilemma” was a prime example of this, as the two produced a classic hit that topped charts worldwide. Numerous Grammy Awards and a run of hit albums later, Nelly’s career has demonstrated his ability to move between singing and spitting bars with ease.
5. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has established herself as a dynamic performer with expertise in both singing and rapping. With her animated flow and theatrical persona, she burst onto the scene with hits like “Super Bass,” in which her catchy hooks showcased her vocal ability alongside her lyrical dexterity. The track “Starships” further exemplified her versatility, blending pop-infused singing with rap elements and dominating international charts. Songs like “Your Love,” from her solo debut album Pink Friday, demonstrated her seamless vocal and rapping transitions, exhibiting a range that few other artists could match.
Minaj’s rap skills are evident in tracks like “Monster,” a standout collaboration with Kanye West, where her rapid-fire verses stole the show. The icon’s influence extends beyond her music; she has become a trailblazer for female rappers, breaking barriers and setting new standards for creativity in the industry.
Drake, often dubbed the “6 God,” has dominated the music scene with an exceptional ability to move between rap and singing. Drake has consistently combined illustrative rap verses with emotional melodies, from his early mixtapes to his chart-topping albums. Hits like “Started From the Bottom” highlight his lyrical skills and tell the story of his rise to fame, while “Hotline Bling,” with its catchy vocals, takes center stage. The Grammy-winning musician’s adaptability is further demonstrated with songs like “Marvin’s Room,” where he delicately intertwines a melodic delivery with confessional lyrics.
Drake’s many chart-topping hits, including “God’s Plan” and “In My Feelings,” attest to his monumental impact on rap and R&B. His ability to blend hip hop and singing with ease has not only influenced his career but also established a benchmark for a new wave of musicians looking to experiment with mixing genres.
7. Doja Cat
Doja Cat, a breakout star in contemporary music, has proved her versatility as both a rapper and singer, which has elevated her to the forefront of the industry. Known for her contagious energy and distinct combination of swagger and humor, she rose to fame with the satirical viral hit “Mooo!” and showcased her rap skills with songs like “Say So.” Her debut solo album, Amala, exhibited her ability to move fluidly between genres as she incorporated hip hop elements into songs like “Go to Town” and “Tia Tamera.”
The hit offering “Say So” — which highlighted Doja’s versatility by featuring a rap breakdown alongside her vocals — further cemented her breakthrough success in the mainstream. The career of Doja Cat, a musician renowned for pushing boundaries and experimenting with different sounds, is a prime example of a new age in which the distinction between singing and rapping is delightfully blurred, as heard in hits like “Streets” and “Kiss Me More.”
8. Baby Tate
Baby Tate, a rising force in the music industry, is making waves with her dynamic abilities as both a rapper and a singer. Known for her clever lyricism and infectious energy, she gained attention with tracks like “Cold” that featured her lyrical prowess and captivating delivery. Tate’s versatility also extends to her singing abilities, as she skillfully combines nostalgic melodies with introspective verses.
With its smooth fusion of rap and R&B elements, the breakout single “I Am” from the Atlanta-based artist demonstrated her unique style of fusing multiple genres. Baby Tate’s ability to switch between singing and rapping is a testament to how hip hop is changing as she forges ahead in the business.
Rising star Doechii has been making big moves in the music business with her dynamic versatility. She gained recognition with songs like breakout track “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake,” which illustrated her rap skill and confidence. She’s known for her commanding presence and unapologetic lyricism. In her video for The “P**sy Talk” Challenge, Doechii skillfully blended melodic elements with her unique rap style, which showcased her adaptability.
As an artist who embraces experimentation and creativity, the rising star’s breakout track exemplified her willingness to push boundaries, blending rap, singing and a distinctive visual aesthetic. Doechii is making her mark in the music industry and bringing a new viewpoint.
Kalan.FrFr has become a prominent figure in the world of music. Hailing from Los Angeles, he is popular for his poignant lyricism and smooth delivery, which are on full display in songs like “Fine A**,” where he expertly mixes memorable hooks with rap verses. Kalan.FrFr’s dynamic flow and soulful singing create a captivating fusion in songs like “Right Wit It” and add to his ability to transition between styles.
With audiences connecting with his versatility and relatable storytelling, songs like “Light Breeze” and “Never Lose You” have established themselves as classics in his discography. Rapping and singing are seamlessly incorporated into Kalan.FrFr’s career and further solidify his status as an artist who effortlessly transcends conventional genre boundaries in today’s music.