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14 Popular American Rappers With African Roots

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There’s quite a few famous American rappers with known African roots. Let’s take a look at them.

Kendrick Lamar (Sierra Leone)

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HOUSTON, TEXAS – APRIL 02: Recording artist Kendrick Lamar performs on stage during the Coca-Cola Music Mix at the NCAA March Madness Music Festival Day 2 at Discovery Green on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Turner)

Kendrick Lamar has stated in interviews that he has roots in the Mende and Temne peoples of Sierra Leone, which are two of the largest ethnic groups in the country. Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa that was colonized by the British in the 19th century and gained its independence in 1961.


While Lamar was born and raised in the United States, he has expressed a strong interest in his African heritage and has incorporated elements of African culture into his music and visuals.

Maxo Kream (Nigeria)

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Houston rapper maxo Kream born Emekwane Ogugua Biosah Jr is of Nigerian descent. His father Emekwanem Ibemakanam Ogugua Biosah Sr immigrated to the United States from Nigeria.

Nipsey Hussle (Eriteria)

Nipsey Hussle Cause Of Death, Shooter And Memorial

Late West Coast legend Ermias Joseph Asghedom popularity known as Nipsey Hussle was born on August 15, 1985, in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California, to Angelique Smith, and Dawit Asghedom, an Eritrean immigrant.

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At the age of 19, Nipsey’s father took both him and his brother Samiel on a trip to Eritrea, for three months in 2004 to connect with their roots. The “Victory Lap” rapper credited the trip with inspiring him to become a community activist with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Hussle 33 was shot and killed on Sunday (March 31) in a car pack outside his Marathon Clothing store in South Los Angeles. The alleged shooter, 29-year old Eric Holder is currently in police custody.

Vic Mensa (Ghana)

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The Chicago rapper was born Victor Kwesi Mensah to a Ghanian father. Mensa grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, and started his career in 2009 as a member of a band called Kids These Days. Mensa recently visited Ghana to reconnect with his roots. He also collaborated with a handful of Ghanaian rappers during his visit including M.anifest, Kwesi Arthur and Sarkodie. Vic Mensa is currently signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

Earl Sweatshirt (South Africa)

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Thebe Neruda Kgositsile aka Earl Sweatshirt has South African roots. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Cheryl Harris, a law professor at University of California, Los Angeles, and Keorapetse Kgositsile, a South African poet and political activist.
Earl’s parents separated when he was six years old. He began his career under the pseudonym Sly Tendencies but later changed it to Earl Sweatshirt when he joined Tyler, The Creator’s alte rap group Odd Future.

V.I.C (Ghana)

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V.I.C. was born Victor Grimmy Owusu in 1987 in Corona, Queens to a mother from New York City and a father from Ghana. His debut album “Beast” charted at number 73 on the billboard 200 selling 8,000 copies the first week.

Jean Grae (South Africa)

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Jean Grae, born Tsidi Ibrahim, is the daughter of South African Jazz musicians Sathima Bea Benjamin and Abdullah Ibrahim. She was born in Cape Town, South Africa on November 26, 1976, but was raised in New York City, where her parents moved after her birth.
She is quite popular in the underground hip hop scene in New York and has scored co-signs from the likes of Jay-Z and Black Thought.
She made mention of her South African roots on the song Black Girl Pain with Talib Kweli.

Wale (Nigeria)

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It’s a known fact that Wale is a Nigerian-American. He never fails to fly the Nigerian flag whenever he can. His full name is Olubowale Victor Akintimehin and his parents are both from the Yoruba ethnic group of Southwestern Nigeria. The rapper has collaborated with several African and Nigerian superstars including Phyno, Olamide, Kwesta and Reminisce.

Akon (Senegal)

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Akon iwas born on April 16, 1973, in St. Louis, Missouri, but his family is originally from Senegal, a country in West Africa. Akon spent much of his childhood in Senegal before moving to the United States when he was 7 years old. He has often also used their success to give back to African communities through various philanthropic efforts.

Styles P (South Africa)

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The Yonkers OG – real named David R. Styles was born to a South African mother and Jamaican father on November 28, 1974. He visited South Africa in 2009 for a safari with his family.

Jidenna (Nigeria)

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Jidenna was born in the US to a Nigerian father and an American mother, and he spent some of his childhood in Nigeria.

French Montana (Morocco)

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French Montana’s roots is one of the most publicized. The No Stylish rapper was born in Morocco to a Moroccan father and a mother of Somali and Yemeni descent.

Tyler, The Creator (Nigeria)

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Tyler, The Creator is a son of a Nigerian father with Igbo ancestry and an American mother of mixed African-American and European-Canadian descent. The “Call Me If You Get Lost” rapper born Tyler Gregory Okonma was raised by his mother and has never met his father. He referenced his troubled upbringing on Bastard.

Lil Wayne (Nigeria)

Lil Wayne Earns First Diamond Record Of His Career With ‘Lollipop’

Lil Wayne revealed on Drink Champs that he is 53% Nigerian.

“Shout out to Nigeria, I did my ancestry dot com and my shit came back like 53% Nigerian,” he disclosed. “Yea! Me and my mum need to have a talk.” He also said he has plans of visiting Nigeria and Egypt soon. The Grammy Award winning rapper born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. was abandoned by his father after his parents divorced when he was just two years old.

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