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25 Best New Jersey Rappers (Most Famous)

December 12, 2023
new jersey rappers

I’ve curated a list of the best New Jersey rappers, artists who have made significant contributions to the hip-hop genre with their unique styles and influential sounds.

This article is a showcase of the talent and diversity that New Jersey has brought to the rap scene.

Top New Jersey rappers

  • Ice-T
  • Fetty Wap
  • Queen Latifah
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Russ
  • Lauryn Hill
  • Chino XL
  • Redman
  • Mike Zombie
  • Miilkbone

1. Ice-T

The famous American vocalist Ice-T is widely considered one of the best rappers of his generation.

An undisputed pioneer of rapcore and gangsta rap music, Ice-T was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey.

He launched his career with the Rhyme Pays studio album and made history when he became the first rapper to use the parental advisory label for his songs.

Some also remember him from his time with Body Count, the famous heavy metal group he founded in 1990 in Los Angeles. 

Ice-T’s best songs have influenced many US rappers, writing his name in history books as one of the best New Jersey rappers ever. 

2. Fetty Wap

From “Trap Queen” to “679” and “My Way,” Fetty Wap has enjoyed plenty of success with great hits in the modern rap scene.

Unsurprisingly, he’s also one of the best rappers from New Jersey, having spent his childhood in Paterson.

He went to Eastside High School before opting out to focus on his music career.

Fetty Wap’s debut hit song, “Trap Queen,” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earned him a deal with the 300 Entertainment record label.

A victim of congenital glaucoma in both eyes, Fetty Wap, hasn’t had the easiest journey to the top.

But that didn’t stop him from realizing his musical aspirations.

Today, he’s loved for his distinct singing and rapping style that brings fresh energy to the rap industry.

3. Queen Latifah

The legendary Queen Latifah is one of the biggest names from New Jersey and has been in the limelight for over two decades.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, the Grammy-winning artist released her first album, All Hail the Queen, at 19.

She’s loved for her social activism and empowering lyrics that resonate with many audiences. 

She’s received multiple accolades throughout her career and featured in many films. 

Any New Jersey native wouldn’t want to leave her out when listing the most popular figures from the region. 

4. Shaquille O’Neal

Here’s a New Jersey rapper who goes by many nicknames.

Shaq Fu. Shaq Diesel. The Big Diesel. 

You probably didn’t expect to see Shaquille O’Neal, or Shaq, as he’s commonly known on this list.

But he’s that multitalented guy every New Jersey native wishes to emulate. 

The Newark native is best known for his successful basketball career, with impressive individual accolades.

Off the court, Shaq is a brilliant rapper who specializes in hip-hop and electronic dance music genres.

O’Neal started his music career in the early 90s with one compilation album and five studio albums. 

While some criticized his rapping style at the start of his career, he’s earned more respect over the years with hits like “You Can’t Stop the Reign,” “Where Ya At?” and “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)?”

5. Russ

The next New Jersey rapper on the list hails from Secaucus. 

Russell James Vitale, commonly known as Russ, is a distinguished American rapper, singer, and songwriter who has entertained his fans since the mid-2000s.

Russ spent his childhood in Kentucky and North Carolina, owing to the nature of his father’s job. 

His dad laid the perfect foundation for him by teaching him how to play the guitar at a young age.

Russ was already composing raps at home at seven years old. 

The New Jersey rapper’s songs blend R&B and hip-hop elements, and he’s mentioned 50-Cent, Eminem, and G-Unit as his earliest inspirations.

6. Lauryn Hill

The legendary artist Lauryn Hill is undoubtedly one of the best rappers out of New Jersey.

She’s been labeled one of the best female rappers in the world, with a magical voice that captivated many hip-hop lovers worldwide.

She became one of the most influential female rappers of the 90s when The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album won 5 Grammy Awards in 1998. 

7. Chino XL

Chino XL might be a New York native by birth, but he grew up in New Jersey. 

Abandoned by his Puerto Rican father at a young age, the American rapper grew up under the care of his single mother.

He got his breakthrough in 1996 with his debut album, Here To Save You All, and never looked back again. 

8. Redman

Redman got his rapping career to a perfect start in the 1990s with Def Jam Recordings. 

He is best remembered for his high-profile collaborations with Method Man and their involvement in the 90s sitcoms and films. 

Born in Newark, Redman went to Speedway Avenue School and 13th Avenue School before advancing to West Side School. 

He was expelled from the University for poor academic grades.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for the New Jersey rapper, his mother banished him from their house for alleged drug dealings.

The events pushed a dejected 18-year-old Redman to try his hands at DJ-Emceeing. 

He headlined many New Jersey and New York house parties with freestyle rapping before Erick Sermon discovered him in the late 1980s. 

And the rest is history. 

9. Mike Zombie

Mike Zombie was born William Michael Coleman in Willingboro Township, New Jersey, in 1992.

He’s the lesser-known in-house producer for Canadian rapper Drake’s OVO Sound record label. 

His best-ever project from the label was Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” single from the Nothing Was the Same album. 

Zombie has released several mix tapes throughout his career, including The End of the Beginning (2013), Rebel Without a Cause (2015), Humble Genius (2016), and 20GREATEEN (2018), to mention a few. 

10. Miilkbone

Thomas Wlodarczyk, alias Miilkbone is another American rapper who helped put New Jersey on the global map.

He started his career in the early 90s alongside fellow New Jersey rapper Biz Markie and was affiliated with the Naughty by Nature hip-hop group.

Miilkbone released his first album, Da’ Miilkrate, in 1993 after signing with Capital Records.

His first two singles from the album, “Where’z Da’ Party At?” and “Keep It Real,” enjoyed moderate success. 

11. Pacewon

Pacewon was one of the best American rappers in the New Jersey rap scene in the 1990s.

He came to the limelight as the founder of the New Jersey hip-hop collective, Outsidaz, alongside fellow rappers Rah Digga, Slang Ton, Loon, and Young Zee, among the rest.

Pacewon’s smooth vocals endeared him to many rap music lovers.

As a solo artist, the New Jersey rapper released “I Declare War/Step Up,” “Sunroof Top/Locked Up (12),” “Okay, Alright,” and “Do My Thing.”

12. Audrey Nuna

Audrey Chu, commonly known by her stage name, Audrey Nuna, is a female R&B singer and rapper who rose to fame with singles “Comic Sans” and “damn Right.”

She discovered her love for music at a young age, covering songs from some of the most popular artists at the time, like Drake and Childish Gambino.

She went to the Clive Davis Music Institute before opting out of the college to pursue her music aspirations. 

Audrey’s songs feature R&B, rap, trap, and pop elements, making her one of the most exciting New Jersey rappers to listen to. 

13. Rah Digga

Rah Digga has been associated with Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad for many years and debuted with her Dirty Harriet album in 2000. 

She pursued electrical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology before working on her rapping skills with inspiration from Rakim, KRS-One, and Kool G Rap. 

Besides her music career, Rah Digga has succeeded in acting, appearing in films like Thirteen Ghosts (2001), Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001), and Queens of Hip Hop. 

14. 070 Shake

070 Shake is a North Bergen-born rapper and singer who has excelled as a solo artist and a member of the 070 musical collectives.

She rose to new levels of fame after appearing in Kanye West’s “Wyoming” hit.

Kanye also opened doors for her to his GOOD Music record label, featuring her in the “Violent Crimes” and “Ghost Town” hits from the Ye studio album. 

O70 Shake’s Modus Vivendi (2020) and You Can’t Kill Me (2022) albums received positive reviews from music critics. 

15. Lady Luck

Lady Luck is another female rapper from New Jersey, known from Jay-Z’s Backstage documentary film. 

She hails from Englewood, New Jersey, and started her career with Def Jam, signing a lucrative deal to kick-start her promising career.

She built her career on the popularity of her many freestyles for the WQHT-FM radio station. 

She became even more popular after appearing in the 2017 reality show, The First Family of Hip-Hop. 

16. Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean is a Haitian rapper who moved to the US with his family at only nine years.

He’s best remembered as one of the founding members of New Jersey’s hip-hop group, The Fugees, alongside Pras Michael and Lauryn Hill.

The trio rose to fame with Blunted on Reality (1994) and The Score (1996) albums. 

Later, Wyclef released his solo album, Wyclef Jean Presents The Carnival (1997), to follow up on the previous success.

The album featured his signature song, “Gone Till November,” which became a top 10 hit.

He also featured on Destiny Child’s hit, “No, No, No,” around the same time. 

And in a short period, Jean had written his name in history books as one of the best New Jersey rappers. 

17. Treach

Anthony Chriss, or Treach, is another New Jersey rapper who made a name for himself as a Naughty by Nature hip-hop group member.

Some remember him from his close friendship with rapper Tupac Shakur, the duo collaborating on “5 Deadly Venomz.”

Treach is also a brother to Diesel, another New Jersey rapper, and a Rottin Razkals hip-hop group member. 

Some of Treach’s best projects with Naughty by Nature include the albums Independent Leaders (1989), 19 Naughty III (1993), and Poverty’s Paradise (1995), among the rest. 

18. Justina Valentine 

Justina Valentine is best known for her role in the Wild ‘N Out comedy show.

She’s a television host, singer, and rapper who’s collaborated with fellow New Jersey rapper Fetty Wap on “Unbelievable” and “Candy Land” singles.

She grew up in Passaic County, New Jersey, and had a musical background to support her career.

19. Dash

Dash is an American rapper from Hackensack, New Jersey, who discovered his rapping talent at a young age, uploading his first music on MySpace at only 16.

He rose to fame in 2012 after featuring on three songs by the famous hip-hop collective ASAP Mob.

Dash has worked with many artists in the rap industry, including Vince Staples, Mac Miller, and Earl Sweatshirt. 

20. Naughty by Nature

Naughty by Nature probably deserves the title of the most underrated hip-hop act ever.

They were one of the best hip-hop groups back then, comprising the trio of New Jersey rappers Treach, DJ Kay Gee, and Vin Rock. 

They announced their arrival to the 80s rap scene with their debut studio album, Independent Leaders, which contained the moderately successful “Scuffin’ Those Knees” hit.

Their breakthrough came in the early 90s with “O.P.P.” inspired by the Jackson 5’s “ABC.”

In 1995, the hip-hop group won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. 

Some of the group’s best songs include “Hip Hop Hurray,” “Feel Me Flow,” and “Jamboree.”

21. FatBoy SSE

Tyriq Thomas Kimbrough, alias FatBoy SSE, is part of the new rappers taking the New Jersey rap scene by storm. 

Born in Irvington, New Jersey, the 1993 born rapper changed his path from selling drugs to releasing good music.

He shot to fame in 2016 with the Fat Bastard mix tape, following it up the same year with F*uck Burger King.

His rapping style has earned positive reviews, attracting the attention of legendary rappers Meek Mill and 50 Cent. 

22. Young Zee

Young Zee is best known as a hip-hop emcee, having started his career with the Outsidaz hip-hop group alongside fellow New Jersey rapper, Pacewon. 

He was born in Newark and made a name for himself in east coast hip hop, hardcore hip hop, battle rap, and underground hip hop. 

One of Zee’s best-ever projects was his 2011 collaboration with The Dirty Dozen on the latter’s Return Of The Dozen Vol. 2 mix tape. 

23. Hoodrich Pablo Juan

Despite only starting his rap career in 2014, Hoodrich Pablo Juan has become one of the best New Jersey rappers. 

After launching his career with the “Go Get Money” hit, he released a series of mix tapes, including Designer Drugz, Million Dollar Plugs, and Auto Juan. 

Pablo released his signature song, “We Don’t Luv Em,” after signing with Gucci Mane’s 1017 Records. 

24. Joe Budden

Joe Budden is only recognized as a media personality these days.

But he was among the best New Jersey rappers in the early 2000s, thanks to his top 40 single, dubbed “Pump It Up.”

He was part of the Slaughterhouse hip-hop group alongside Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, and Royce da 5’9.”

Joe released two albums with the iconic super group, Slaughterhouse (2009) and Welcome to: Our House (2012).

25. Hodgy

Completing our list is a Trenton-born rapper and a founding member of the Odd Future hip-hop collective alongside Casey Veggies, Matt Martians, Syd, Jasper Dolphin, Travis Bennett, Left Brain, and Tyler, the Creator.

He grew up in Trenton with Filipino, Fijian, and Jamaican roots.

The rapper has been featured in many albums, including Tyler, the Creator’s Bastard, Goblin and Wolf, Earl Sweatshirt’s Earl, and Domo Genesis’ Rolling Papers.

 As a solo artist, Hodgy has released five mix tapes, including The Dena, Untitled EP, Untitled 2 EP, They Watchin’ LoFi Series 1, and Dena Tape 2. 

Best New Jersey Rappers – Final Thoughts

There’s so much to admire about New Jersey, whether as a native or taking one of those trips to the Garden State.

Rap lovers, in particular, have plenty to discover about the state, as it is home to some of the most iconic figures in the hip-hop world.

From Ice-T to Lauryn Hill, the state has undoubtedly contributed its part to the history of hip-hop music.

We hope our guide to the 25 best New Jersey rappers has increased your love for the Garden State. 

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