When talking about Black music it’s obvious that we have to talk about the genres of rap and hip hop. Dating back to the 70s and 80 rappers have been putting their best lyrics over a tight beat for years. Hip-hop and rap have grown beyond something so much more than just music. It’s a lifestyle, it’s an influence, it’s a cultural movement. Some of the most talented rappers to ever step in the booth are HBCU alumni. In celebration of Black Music Month, here are some of our favorites.


Is there anything Common can’t do?  He is an award-winning, multi-faceted entertainer. In addition to being a beloved rapper and actor, he is also a published author and social activist.

This Chicago native stepped onto the scene in the late 80s a member of the rap trio C.D.R. But before starting his solo career as Common Sense, he attended FAMU on scholarship and majored in business administration. He eventually dropped out to pursue a music career.

With the release of his second album, Resurrection, Common Sense gained a large following outside the Chicago music scene. This album received a positive response amongst alternative and underground hip-hop fans. Common shortened his name from Common Sense due to a legal battle-with an Orange County-based reggae band with the same name.

Common’s career continued to flourish throughout the 90s and 2000’s. The release of his third studio album One Day It’ll All Make Sense led to him landing a major label deal with MCA Records. After working with Kanye West on his The College Dropout album he later signed to West’s then label GOOD Music. He would go on to record 11 more studio albums with features from artists including D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Questlove, and John Legend.

Common is known as an actor just as he is a rapper. He has roles on numerous television shows and movies including Girlfriends, American Gangster, Just Wright, The Hate U Give, and Selma. He even had a small role in the NBC television special The Wiz Live!

He has three Grammy Awards, as well as a Golden Globe and Academy Award for his Glory with John Legend.


It’s only right one of the people responsible for one of the best songs to ever hit an HBCU campus is an HBCU alumus himself. Mr. No Hands better known by his stage name Wale attended not one but two HBCUs.

After attending Robert Morris University for a brief period Wale attended Virginia State University on a football scholarship. He later returned home to Maryland to attend Bowie State University. Unfortunately, he had to drop out due to academic reasons. Wale gained notice in his hometown with his first recorded track Rhyme of the Century.

In 2008 Wale was signed to a joint venture deal with Allido Records and Interscope. Other record labels including Epic Records, Atlantic Records, and Def Jam all vied to sign Wale. With Allido and Interscope he released his debut album Attention Deficit which had features from major artists including Lady Gaga, Gucci Mane, J. Cole, and Jazmine Sullivan.

Wale would later go on to sign to Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group. That same year he released one of his most popular albums, Ambition. He would go on to release five more albums including Folarin II, the album follow-up to his 2012 mixtape, Folarin. Wale has numerous hit songs with other major artists including No Hands, Lotus Flower Bomb, On Chill, and The Matrimony.

In 2016, he also recorded the original theme song for the ESPN show Hot Take which now features Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim, and Shannon Sharpe.

2 Chainz

You may have met him as 2 Chainz but real fans know him as Tity Boi. But before he was known by either one of those names, he was Tauheed Epps from College Park, Georgia.

Like fellow rapper Wale, Epps attended two HBCUs. He attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship playing on the team from 1995 to 1997. Due to circumstances, Epps transferred to Virginia State University where he later graduated.

Before his solo career, took off he was one half of the hip-hop duo Playaz Circle with his high school friend Earl Conyers. The duo released an independent album titled United We Stand Until We Fall. The duo would later connect with rapper Ludacris, recording several songs together.

They later signed a deal with the record label Disturbing Tha Peace. Their lead single and debut track Duffle Bag Boy featuring Lil Wayne became an instant hit. Epps eventually left Disturbing Tha Peace to advance his career.

He later changed his name to 2 Chainz as he felt it was more family friendly. Epps became a successful feature artist snagging features with big-name artists like Kanye West and Nick Minaj. His debut album Based on a T.R.U. Story debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. It also earned him 13 BET Hip Hop Award nominations as well as three Grammy Award nominations. He would go on to release six more studio albums. Features on those albums include Drake, Pharrell, Pusha T, Quavo, and Future.

Epps has numerous awards including one Grammy and numerous BET and BET Hip Hop Awards. He has had several small roles in various movies including The First Purge, Fast & Furious 6, and Ride Along. He recently landed the role of Stacks, a recurring role on the hit Starz series, BMF.

Rick Ross

Shoutout to all the Rams! Whether you call him The Boss, Rozay, or the Teflon Da Don. We all know Albany State University alumnus Rick Ross

This former correctional officer turned record executive attended Albany State University on a football scholarship. He played on the team for two years. Ross worked briefly as a correctional officer for two years before resigning in 1997.

He changed his stage name to Rick Ross during the mid-2000s. After being signed to Suave House Records he signed to Slip-n-Slide Records where he performed with fellow rapper Trick Daddy.

Ross’ debut album Port of Miami debuted at number on the US Billboard 200 chart. His second album followed suit and also debuted at number one. His second album featured the hit single Here I Am featuring Nelly and Avery Storm. Ross has released 11 studio albums with features from artists including Drake, Meek Mill, Jay-Z, and Nas.

In 2018, Ross founded the record label, Maybach Music Group. The launch of the label was in collaboration with Ross’ then label Island Def Jam. MMG has signed numerous artists including Wale, Meek Mill, French Montana, and Omarion.

Along with being a well-respected rapper, Ross is the owner of several Wingstop Franchises.

Megan Thee Stallion

Of course, everyone’s favorite H-Town hottie has beauty and brains. Megan Thee Stallion inspired students everywhere when at the height of her career, she revealed that she was in the process of earning her college degree.

Megan Thee Stallion graduated from Texas Southern University with a bachelor's degree in health administration in December 2021. Before graduating from Texas Southern she spent her freshman year at Prairie View A&M University. It was during her undergraduate years that Megan developed her skills as both a rapper and dancer. She danced as a Panther Doll during her time at Prairie View. She also began uploading videos of herself free styling on social media.

Before reaching mainstream success, Megan released independent singles and mixtapes. Her song Stalli (Freestyle) went viral on social media.  In early 2018, she was signed by 1501 Certified Entertainment being the first female rapper signed to the label.

Later that year Megan dropped her EP Tina Snow named after her alter ego. The single Big Ole Freak from the EP was an instant hit. Megan would go on to put out several other successful projects including Fever, Suga, Good News, and Traumazine. Some of her chart-topping hits include Hot Girl Summer, Savage, WAP, Body, and Cobra.

She has won over 50 awards including two Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, and two iHeartRadio Awards. In addition to being one of the hottest rappers in the game (not just a female rapper but a rapper period) Megan is also a savvy businesswoman and generous philanthropist. She partnered with the Frito Lay brand “Flamin Hot” to create a scholarship at Texas Southern. She has partnerships with brands such as Nike, Planet Fitness, Popeyes, Coach, and Revlon.

Megan Thee Stallion is currently on her Hot Girl Summer Tour with fellow rapper Glorilla.