Famous New Jersey Rappers

Famous Rappers from New Jersey: Exploring the Legacy of Jersey’s Hip-Hop Visionaries and the Rise of Iconic Rappers

New Jersey is no stranger to the rap game. Although it may not boast as many hip-hop stars as neighboring New York, the Garden State has produced many rap talents who have topped charts, won accolades, and made a name for themselves in the music world. Whether you are into trap, backpack, or gangster rap, chances are you have a New Jersey rapper on your playlist. Read on to discover some of the most popular rap artists to have ever come out of New Jersey.


Better known as Ice-T, Tracy Lauren Marrow is an American rapper and singer born in Newark in 1958. He started his rapping career in the early ’80s and released his first album, Rhyme Pays, in 1987. Tracy went on to produce many successful albums, including O.G. Original Gangster, which pioneered the gangster rap genre. The West Coast superstar was also instrumental in the development of rapcore, otherwise known as punk rap. Most of his songs center on important social issues like police brutality, racism, and poverty. Ice-T is also famous for his acting skills, starring in movies like Breakin’, Stealth Fighter, and Surviving the Game and the TV show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah, named Dana Elaine Owens, is among the first females to break into the male-dominated rap music industry. Like Ice-T, she is also a native of Newark, where she was born in March 1970. Queen Latifah’s journey as a rapper started in 1988 when she signed with Tommy Boy Records. Her 1989 debut album, All Hail the Queen, sold over a million copies and peaked in the sixth spot on the Billboard Top Hip Hop Album chart. Queen Latifah rolled out a couple more hits, including the feminist anthem “Ladies First,” “Fly Girl,” and “UNITY,” which earned her her first Grammy Award in 1995. She is also a popular face on the big screen, with key roles in films such as Set It Off, Chicago, Girls Trip, and Last Holiday.


Born Reginald Noble, Redman is another iconic American rapper who grew up on the gritty streets of Newark. Bursting onto the hip hop screen in the early ‘90s under record label Def Jam, it didn’t take Redman long to establish himself. His first album, Whut? Thee Album, produced in 1992, was a huge success. It includes his signature track, “Tonight’s the Night,” – an instant hit that earned him the number two spot on the Billboard rap chart. Redman kept the momentum going with the release of albums like Dare Iz a Darkside in 1994 and Muddy Waters in 1996. He collaborated on most of his later songs with his friend Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan fame. Together, they became the prolific rap duo Method Man & Redman. Redman is known for his witty lyrics, funk-inspired beats, and energetic stage presence, making him one of the most loved rappers from New Jersey.

Lauryn Hill

When talking about female rappers who can stand toe-to-toe with their male counterparts, Lauryn Hill ranks at the top of the list. Born in South Orange in May 1975, Lauryn first rose to fame as a member of the multitalented music group Fugees alongside Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel. She released her ground-breaking debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, in 1998, which won her five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Her music is a blend of melodic rap, soul, and reggae, earning loyal fans worldwide. Lauryn is famous for her soul-stirring vocals and deeply personal lyrics centered on the themes of love, personal growth, and spirituality. In 2023, Billboard named her among the 50 biggest rappers of all time.

Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap is also one of the most popular rappers from New Jersey. He was born Willie Junior Maxwell II in June 1991 in Paterson, where he grew up. Fetty Wap entered the hip-hop scene in 2014 with his chart-topping single “Trap Queen.” The song quickly rose to number two on the Billboard 100 and got him a recording deal with 300 Entertainment. He followed up with two singles, “678” and “My Way,” which were also hits. Fetty Wap stood out among other contemporary artists with his distinctive rapping style, catchy lyrics, and infectious beats.


Antony Shawn Criss, also known as Treach, is another artist who helped put New Jersey on the rap map. He was born in December 1970 in East Orange, where he spent most of his childhood. Treach became famous as the frontman of the hip-hop group Naughty by Nature, which he formed in 1986 with Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee. Some of the group’s best songs include “Ghetto B-----d,” “OPP,” “Uptown Anthem,” and “Hip-Hop Hurray.” Treach was also a close friend of the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur and even featured in the music video for the latter’s “Temptations.” He captivated music lovers with his amazing wordplay and powerful delivery. Treach is widely regarded as one of the best lyricists the rap game has ever seen.

Shaquille O’Neal

Many people would be surprised to see Shaquille O’Neal on this list. More famous for his impressive basketball feats, Shaq is also a brilliant rapper off the court. The Newark native began his music career in 1993 when he signed with Jive Records. He released his first album, Shaq Diesel, which peaked at number 25 on the Billboard 200. Shaq later rolled out four singles, including “Skillz,” “I’m Outstanding,” and “Shoot Pass Slam.” Although his last song, “Respect,” was produced in 1998, Shaq returned to the rap game with a new song, “King Talk,” released in May 2023.


New Jersey is home to some of the most popular hip-hop stars in the US. From Queen Latifah to Redman and Fetty Wap, these artists have made immense contributions to the rap game and inspired thousands of rap lovers and aspiring musicians worldwide. Note that these are only a few of the most popular rappers from the Garden State. There are many other notable NJ rap artists who can battle it out with hitmakers from Memphis, New York, Chicago, and other states. These include Chino XL, Russ, Miilkbone, Pacewon, Rah Digga, and Justina Valentine. This rich hip-hop heritage has made New Jersey a popular travel destination often picked by casino players who love exploring places with vibrant and lively music scenes.

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