Hip-Hop culture has been heavily influenced by HBCUs, and this list of famous rappers who are alumni of these schools is proof of that strong legacy.
The vast amount of talent that has come from the nation’s network of Historically Black Colleges & Universities is immense. But not everyone immediately connects the dots to how much of that talent has made names for themselves in Hip-Hop culture for years. HBCUs are getting a new wave of interest, thanks to figures such as Deion Sanders and Master P among others. We take a closer look at ten notable names in Hip-Hop who have had a strong foundation of attending these esteemed institutions.
Sean “Diddy” Combs
A venerable pioneer in the industry and a Grammy Award-winning artist, producer, and mogul, Diddy has definitely stood out as one who’s shaped Hip-Hop. It’s not lost on him how much Howard University helped him as he started out. While he left in his sophomore year to work under Andre Harrell at Uptown Records, the school has a
place in his heart. Combs would receive an Honorary Doctorate from Howard in 2014, and he pledged $1 million to the school while at the 2022 BET Awards. That donation would play a part in reviving Howard’s financial outlook going forward.
Megan Thee Stallion
The self-proclaimed “Hot Girl,” Megan Thee Stallion has always been proud of her achievements, including graduation from Texas Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in health administration. The 26-year-old Grammy Award winner strived to earn her degree, even more so after losing her mother, Holly Thomas to brain cancer in 2019. She’s also stated her desire to open an assisted living facility with her rap earnings, and wants to help her former classmates by employing them to run it.
Lords Of The Underground
The trio of MCs Mr. Funke, DoItAll, and DJ Lord Jazz burst onto the scene in 1993 with their debut album, Here Come The Lords featuring the classic single, “Chief Rocka”. That would entrench them firmly in the “golden age of Hip-Hop”. They first met as undergraduates at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The rapper and host of Vice’s Most Expensivist is also a staunch HBCU alumnus. He first attended Alabama State University on a basketball scholarship, meeting his wife Nakisha there as well. The “Money Maker” artist and Grammy Award winner would transfer to Virginia State University before returning to ASU and graduating from there in 2000.
The award-winning rapper, actor, and philanthropist also counts his time at an HBCU as highly formative for his life and career. The two-time Grammy Award winner attended Florida A&M University for two years to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
The Buffalo, New York native [far right in photo above] made his mark on Hip-Hop with the release of “The Theme” in 1997, the hit single off of his debut album, Many Facez. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University in 1994. Lee would soon make a career pivot, becoming the first Hip-Hop artist with a major label deal to become an attorney after graduating from Southern University Law Center. He also became an adjunct professor of the business of music at Coppin State University in 2016.
The highly-regarded group of Rapper Big Pooh, Phonte and DJ/producer 9th Wonder first came together in 1998 while attending North Carolina Central University. The trio would go on to have a strong career, releasing four studio albums and nine mixtapes before disbanding. Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh would reunite for May The Lord Watch in 2019. 9th Wonder would venture into academia which includes serving as an artist-in-residence at NCCU in 2014.
The Washington D.C. native is no stranger to HBCUs, having attended Virginia State University on a football scholarship. The “Lotus Flower Bomb” rapper would transfer to Bowie State University but would wind up dropping out due to academic reasons.
The iconic duo has deep HBCU roots. DJ Premier attended Prairie View A&M University in Texas while still in the early stages of the group’s career. GURU, also known as Keith Elam, graduated from Morehouse College’s Business Management program in 1983.
The hard-hitting MC and Jackson, Mississippi native attended Southern University, excelling as the Student Government Association president as he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Banner would then being studying for his master’s degree at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore before leaving to pursue music full-time.