The Best Jazz Rap Artists

Over 1.0K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Jazz Rap Artists

Formed at the end of the golden age of hip hop, jazz rap incorporates both of these genres to create a sound that pays tribute to the past as it does fusing it with the present. Jazz rap lyrically is political and focuses on Afrocentrism. Unlike other forms of political or militant rap, jazz rap focuses on being positive in its lyrics. Using hip hop rhythms, jazz rap's heyday was during the early 1990s before fading away.

So, who are the best jazz rappers? Any list of jazz rap has to include artists like Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Pete Rock and The Roots. These jazz rappers are also popular alternative rappers, and the artists listed remain widely respected even though some have been broken up for a while. Though jazz rap was a shooting star in terms having a widespread impact in hip hop, many jazz rappers are looked upon quite fondly and are considered rap legends.

That said, it's up to you to determine who is the best jazz rap artists. If you notice that someone isn't on this list and should be, feel free to add them. This should only include artists who are known for jazz rap, and didn't just dabble in the genre because it was trendy. This list answers the questions "who are the best jazz rap bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest jazz rap musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular jazz rap bands that you might've heard of. {#nodes}
Most divisive: Dream Warriors
Ranked by
  • As pioneers of jazz rap, A Tribe Called Quest masterfully combined laid-back vibes and conscious lyrics with jazz-infused beats, creating timeless and innovative tracks. Albums like Midnight Marauders and The Low End Theory consistently showcased their ability to bridge the gap between jazz and hip-hop, influencing countless artists in their wake. Phife Dawg's intricate wordplay and Q-Tip's smooth flow made each song feel innovative and fresh, cementing their position as frontrunners in the jazz rap subgenre.

  • Q-Tip
    111 votes

    As a solo artist, Q-Tip proves that his unique style extends far beyond his work with A Tribe Called Quest. His solo album, The Renaissance, showcases Q-Tip's distinct ability to merge jazzy hooks with clever lyricism, creating a captivating listening experience for fans of both jazz and rap. As a producer, he's contributed to albums by artists like Nas and Kendrick Lamar, proving his impact on modern hip-hop transcends the jazz rap subgenre.

  • Gang Starr
    161 votes

    Guru's unmistakable voice and DJ Premier's top-notch production skills were the first things that set Gang Starr apart from their peers in the world of jazz rap. With records like Moment of Truth and Daily Operation, the duo's music exudes an air of sophistication while still being grounded in raw and gritty hip-hop. It's through their seamless blending of jazz elements into hard-hitting rap tracks that Gang Starr has solidified their legacy as one of the most influential acts in the jazz rap realm.

  • De La Soul
    113 votes

    De La Soul has been pushing boundaries since they burst onto the scene with their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising. They effortlessly blended jazz samples with witty lyrics and an off-kilter sensibility, earning them a dedicated fanbase and critical acclaim. Their influential sound had a significant impact on the development of jazz rap, and their innovative approach to music-making continues to inspire artists today.

  • The Roots
    148 votes

    As one of the most respected bands in hip-hop, The Roots have built an impressive career by seamlessly blending jazz elements into their live performances. Questlove's drumming prowess and Black Thought's powerful lyricism are backed by an ever-evolving lineup of talented musicians, making each Roots show a unique experience. Their ability to create jazz-infused tracks that still maintain a gritty, urban edge sets them apart in the jazz rap community.

  • Digable Planets

    Digable Planets' fusion of jazz and hip-hop was truly groundbreaking, with albums like Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) showcasing their intricate use of jazz samples and laid-back rhymes. The trio of Butterfly, Ladybug Mecca, and Doodlebug successfully combined conscious lyricism with catchy hooks, making their music both intellectually stimulating and undeniably groovy. Digable Planets' influence can be heard in many subsequent artists' work, solidifying their place as pioneers in the jazz rap genre.