In 2023, the religion of Islam still warrants more acknowledgment, respect and understanding. Watching fellow Muslims flourish and prosper make other brothers and sisters of the community proud to do the same. Though it’s not always apparent, there are more rappers who practice the Islamic faith and promote their religious beliefs than fans may notice.
Many artists in the music industry are on the front lines in the public eye, and success in the game relies heavily on portraying a particular image. Thus, many big-name celebrities do everything they can to maintain their privacy. Rarely do fans get to know the depths of their personal lives and beliefs.
Here’s a list of 13 emcees who practice Islam. Many of them give credit to their higher power for the level of success they have achieved. Even those who do not engage in a day-to-day religious routine still manage to shed light on the Muslim community. Check them out below.
1. Ice Cube
LA native, producer, actor, husband and father Ice Cube is best known for his accolades as a rapper in N.W.A. In his classic song “It Was a Good Day,” he rapped, “And momma cooked me breakfast with no hog,” a reference to the halal dietary laws that prohibit eating pork. In addition to being a hip hop staple, he went on to the big screen in iconic films like Friday and Barbershop.
2. Jay Electronica
Roc Nation rapper and producer Jay Electronica is a registered member of the Nation of Islam (NOI), which is a religious and political organization founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad. He also has musical collaborations with artists like Chance the Rapper, Kanye West and Big Sean.
As fans know, Freeway was part of the Philadelphia-based rap group State Property. The collective was on the roster of the pioneering record label Roc-A-Fella Records in the early 2000s. The “Take It to the Top” lyricist turned to his Muslim faith when the foundation of the group was unstable.
4. Beanie Sigel
Also a member of the Muslim community, Sigel was known as the leader of State Property. In 2004, he was incarcerated and condemned some of his friends for not visiting him while serving a bid. This led to turmoil regarding his affiliation with the group. Sigel also starred in the State Property film featuring Memphis Bleek, Damon Dash and JAY-Z.
5. Lupe Fiasco
The “Kick, Push” emcee has noted on various media platforms how Islam plays a major role in his life. He retired via a series of tweets after facing backlash and accusations of hate speech. Although he withdrew himself from the game in 2016, Lupe Fiasco still made major contributions to hip hop history.
6. Lil Durk
On the Chicago superstar’s single “Pelle Coat” off his Almost Healed album, he sings, “Mornin’ time, I pray to Allah / Forgive me for the s**t that I did / Let me get closer to my kids / Can you protect all of my friends?” Additionally, the father of five is seen performing a prayer in the video.
7. French Montana
Karim Kharbouch, known by his stage name, French Montana, was born and raised in Morocco, growing up in the country’s predominantly Islamic culture until the age of 13 when he and his family emigrated to the United States. The rap star made his debut in the hip hop world in 2007, securing his spot as one of the biggest names right off the bat.
8. Busta Rhymes
A legend in the rap game, Busta Rhymes began his journey with Islam at 12 years old. The emcee is mostly recognized for his extremely fast-paced rapping skills and always delivering high energy. The hip hop trailblazer has charted songs with other pioneers in the music industry like Mariah Carey and The Notorious B.I.G.
9. PnB Rock
Rakim Hasheem Allen, professionally known as PnB Rock, was born to a Muslim family in Philadelphia. He once tweeted, “I’m a Muslim and I’m proud to be one.” Sadly, the “Selfish” singer was fatally gunned down during an LA robbery in 2022. He still made a significant impact with the records he left behind for his fans, family and friends.
10. Swizz Beatz
The Bronx-bred superproducer made his mark with his contributions to the iconic ensemble Ruff Ryders. After some time behind the scenes, he decided to create a lane for himself and debuted as a solo artist. Swizz Beatz has always advocated for more attention to be paid to underrepresented religious groups. The hip hop icon is a devoted Muslim, who said in a previous interview, “Allah is my only boss.”
11. Dave East
The East Harlem rapper converted to the Islamic faith while serving a prison sentence for a gun charge. The “Still Here” emcee made his debut as an actor in 2017, joining television series like “Being Mary Jane” and “The Breaks.”
12. Kevin Gates
Kevin Gates has always been vocal and proud of his religion throughout his musical discography. While at times spitting audacious and raunchy lyrics, he simultaneously sings his praises in the Arabic tongue. He is an artist who often sheds light on the Islamic religion with his wife, Dreka Gates, alongside him for the journey. The hit records that propelled his career were “2 Phones” and “I Don’t Get Tired.”
Q-Tip is best recognized for his part in the legendary Queens-based hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. He changed his legal name to Kamaal Ibn John Fareed after converting to Islam in the mid-1990s. Q-Tip was one of the pioneers of socially conscious rap. He promoted healthy and lyrical melodies.