Hip Hop Stars Making it Big Outside the US

The hip-hop scene may have originated in the USA, but the musical genre is increasingly finding new and mainstream audiences in countries around the world.

Below are some of the big names in hip hop who are also finding favor over the water.


Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Jay-Z’s music has made him a star around the globe and been the subject of significant critical acclaim, too. The singer-songwriter’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, released in 1996, was hugely influential, and its mark can be discerned to this day in terms of the development of the genre and its echoes in the albums of other artists.

With over 125 million records sold, Jay-Z is one of the world’s biggest-selling artists, and in June 2019, he officially became the world’s first hip-hop billionaire. He has won multiple awards around the world for his music; as well as being the owner of a plethora of trophies from the American music industry, he’s been recognized with awards in a host of other countries, including the UK, Sweden, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, and Switzerland.

Jay-Z’s genius lies in both his music and his business sense; the star set up the capital venture firm, Arrive, in 2017, a platform designed to offer early-stage support and investment for business start-ups. And that’s just one of his most recent forays into the business world: the rapper also owns a high-end sports bar, a basketball team, and a prestigious champagne brand, not to mention his stake in the music streaming service Tidal and the entertainment company Roc Nation.

And it doesn’t hurt that he’s Mr. Beyonce, too.

Kanye West

As one of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world, Kanye is no stranger to global acclaim; to date, he’s won an impressive 272 awards for his work and has received a staggering 774 nominations from awards boards in a multitude of different countries.

Although it’s his private life – and most notably his marriage to Kim Kardashian and its recent implosion – that has been the subject of most press coverage concerning the entertainer in recent years, it’s his music that has long been the real star of the show. West has been a major influence on modern interpretations of hip hop for over a decade, with other hip hop artists, like Travis Scott and Drake, publicly citing his music as having been a major influence on their own work. He’s also helped to position the genre as a mainstream proposition, and his albums regularly fuse hip hop with other genres -this has helped to make hip hop music more accessible in terms of its use in marketing and promotions. For those looking for royalty-free music in the genre to incorporate into a social media video, advertising campaign, or film, for example, there is now no shortage of options.

Kanye has toured to sell-out audiences around the world and has also played at festivals held in countries including Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Chile, Singapore, and Morocco, to name just a few. It may be his marriage and his bid for the US presidency that have made the mass media headlines, but it’s West’s music that has made him a giant on the global hip hop scene.


And proof that you don’t need to be an act from the USA to hit hip hop megastardom, the UK’s Stormzy first broke onto the underground scene in 2014 before quickly generating more mainstream interest with his distinctive grime-infused music. His album, Gang Signs & Prayers, was released in 2017 and became the very first grime record to hit the UK charts number one spot, securing his place in hip hop fandom forever.

Have a look here if you want to download hip-hop music in a style similar to Stormzy’s for your next video or gaming project. You’ll find a range of genres and their sub-categories so that you’ll be able to easily find exactly what you need. Stormzy himself has continued to innovate in his music, releasing a freestyle track in 2015, which broke the UK’s Top 40 – the first freestyle record ever to do so.

Stormzy is a political activist, too, and regularly engages on the social platform that his stardom has given him; the star established and funds the Stormzy Scholarship for Black UK Students at the University of Cambridge, which covers tuition and maintenance grants for two students for up to four years.


Half Japanese and half Mexican, Aklo came to the wider attention of hip hop audiences a few years ago when MTV ran a profile on the star. 

In 2008 Aklo released his first album, which was followed by The Package in 2012, and this record debuted at the top of the iTunes overall chart; he was also chosen as the Best New Artist by iTunes later that year. Aklo continues to write dynamic, fresh hip hop tracks today and is a huge figure on the Japanese music scene and beyond, regularly making guest appearances on tracks by other artists, including with Ali on the 2020 track Lost in Paradise.