Music does not come from just one place, nor is it just one type of sound. The songs we have in our playlists came from various artists all over the world, from the US to Asia to the UK.
A large number of male singers from Britain has kept our ears entertained as they dropped hit after hit over the decades. Genres have ranged from soft ballads to rock and R&B.
In this list, we’ve selected 15 of the greatest and most famous black British Male singers. You can learn about them by reading on!
Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel was born in Central London and became an international superstar by one name, Seal.
In 1991, Seal released his self-titled debut album with great success. This won him a British Album of the Year, and the album’s lead single, “Killer,” landed the singer a British Video of the Year award. The same year, he was also named British Male Artist of the Year.
Aside from “Killer,” another notable song of Seal’s is 1994’s “Kiss from a Rose.” With this, he added three Grammy Awards to his résumé: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Born in Croydon, London, Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr. is better known by his stage name, Stormzy. He is one of the most famous British rappers today.
Stormzy came up through the underground music scene in the UK. His freestyle over grime beats created a massive following. He released his first EP independently, titled Dreamers Disease.
The list of awards Stormzy has won is a long one. In addition to winning both the Brit Award and the BBC Music Award for Artist of the Year in 2017, Stormzy’s debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, became the first rap album to be named British Album of the Year.
3. Billy Ocean
Leslie Sebastian Charles, or Billy Ocean to his fans, was born in Trinidad & Tobago but grew up in Romford, a town in the east of London. He would go on to have massive success in the early ’80s.
Ocean had a string of modest hits before breaking out with his fifth studio album, Suddenly. His song “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” topped the charts in both the US and the UK, and he was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Aside from that Grammy, he has won seven ASCAP Pop Music Awards over his career. In 2020, Ocean was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his contributions to music.
4. Eddy Grant
Edmond Montague Grant, whose name is often shortened to just Eddy Grant, was born in British Guyana before emigrating to London, England, to join his parents at the age of 12.
While in his late teens, Grant formed the pop-R&B group the Equals. He played guitar and provided background vocals for the band, which had a handful of top-40 hits in the late ’60s.
However, it was not until 1982, when Grant released Killer on the Rampage, that he achieved his greatest success. The album contained two hits, “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” which topped the charts in the UK, and “Electric Avenue,” which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. Dizzee Rascal
British rapper and MC Dizzee Rascal is highly regarded as one of the pioneers of grime music in the UK. He began his music career rapping over tracks at the age of 14.
Born Dylan Kwabena Mills in Bow, London, he got into quite a lot of trouble in school, getting expelled from four of them. One of his teachers gave him the nickname Rascal.
His debut, Boy in da Corner, received critical acclaim and earned the Mercury Prize for Best Album of the Year in 2003. He has compiled a long list of awards and nominations ever since, and in 2020, Dizzee was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to music services.
6. Craig David
Born in Southampton, England, Craig David first started performing in clubs as a teenager when his father played bass in a reggae band.
David rose to fame when he got featured on the Artful Dodger single “Re-Rewind.” A burgeoning solo career soon followed. His debut album, Born to Do It, produced four top-10 singles and hit #11 on the Billboard 200.
David has gotten nominated for multiple Brit Awards as well as two Grammy Awards. Over the course of his career, he has sold over 15 million records worldwide.
7. Michael Kiwanuka
From Muswell Hill, London, we have Michael Kiwanuka. His career started as a session guitarist for other artists, like rappers Bashy and Chipmunk, before starting a solo career in 2011.
Though Kiwanuka’s debut album, Home Again, was well-received, ranking at #4 in the UK Albums chart, his second album, Love & Hate, hit #1. Many singles from this album, like “Cold Little Heart” and “Love & Hate,” were used in various films.
The album also earned Kiwanuka several award nominations, winning two: Album of the Year from the 2017 Worldwide Awards and Best Global Act from HiPipo Music Awards.
Hailing from Tottenham, England, Joseph Olaitan Adenuga Jr. became a very popular grime MC and rapper under the name Skepta.
In 2005, Skepta joined forces with his brother Jme and formed Boy Better Know. He went on to release a couple of solo albums independently before achieving mass popularity when he collaborated with American rapper ASAP Rocky on the hit single “Praise the Lord (Da Shine).”
Born to Nigerian parents, Skepta received a Nigerian chieftaincy in 2018. Today he remains one of the most influential artists in British popular culture.
9. Tinie Tempah
Born in Plumstead, London, England, we have next Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu. Fans know him best by his professional name Tinie Tempah.
Tempah formed his own entertainment company and released some of his music on mixtapes. Off of the success of a couple of number-one singles, his debut album Disc-Overy charted #1 and earned Tempah two Brit Awards.
In 2015, Tempah dropped “Not Letting Go” from Youth, his third studio album. The song topped the charts, allowing Tempah to surpass Dizzee Rascal as the British rap artist with the most number-one singles.
British rapper Dave, or Santan Dave, is known for his socially-aware wordplay. He grew up in Brixton, south London, and began rapping at the age of 16.
Dave enjoyed immediate success with the release of his first album, Psychodrama, which won the Brit Award for Album of the Year. He followed that up with his second release, We’re All Alone in This Together, which also debuted atop the UK Albums chart.
In 2022, Dave dropped the single “Starlight,” which would become his second #1 in the UK. Later that year, Dave embarked on an international tour, selling out arenas in the UK, Europe, and North America.
11. Ranking Roger
Born Roger Charlery in Birmingham, England, Ranking Roger was a vocalist for the ska band the Beat. He was also a drummer for the punk band Dum Dum Boys, who occasionally would open for the Beat. Roger would join them on stage to toast the band.
After the Beat disbanded, Roger later formed General Public in the early ‘80s. With this group, he was the lead vocalist and helped release to albums, All the Rage and Hand to Mouth.
Roger was invited by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones to sing on a version of the Clash’s anthem, “Rock the Casbah,” but it went unreleased until 2015. Later in his career, Roger would revive the Beat and perform alongside his son, Ranking Junior, and his daughter, Saffren.
12. Macka B
One of dancehall’s most beloved figures, Macka B has enjoyed a music career that has spanned more than thirty years, starting with his hit debut album, Sign of the Times.
Born in Wolverhampton, England, Christopher MacFarlane took his stage name from a group of Jewish rebel warriors, the Maccabees. He became a devout Rastafarian, with his music reflecting the spiritual message of Jamaican culture.
Macka B recorded several albums in the 90s and won Best British DJ awards in ‘91 and ‘92. Today, his popularity is still going strong as Macka is still playing shows and festivals worldwide.
13. Roots Manuva
British rapper Rodney Hylton Smith grew up in Stockwell, London. Going by the stage name Roots Manuva, he has become one of the most influential artists in British music.
Manuva experimented with several different styles of hip-hop, including trip-hop and dub, a fusion of reggae and electronic music. He gets credited with laying down the foundation for what would become grime.
In 1998, Manuva won a MOBO Award for Best Hip Hop act. To this day, he continues to be in high demand collaborating with a wide range of artists.
14. Maxi Priest
Max Alfred Elliot, a.k.a. Maxi Priest, was born in Lewisham, London—one of nine siblings—to Jamaican parents. Exposed to pop, R&B, reggae, and gospel music as a child, he started performing music at youth clubs and house parties.
Priest’s cover of Cat Stevens’ classic “Wild World” established him as an accomplished reggae artist. In 1990, he released “Close to You,” which made him only the second reggae act behind UB40 to have a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Over his career, Priest has released 12 studio albums. Though only five of them charted, the singer is still considered one of the most successful reggae singers in the UK.
15. Bitty McLean
British reggae singer Bitty McLean got his name from being the youngest of six children growing up in Birmingham, England. He studied sound engineering in college and eventually produced some of UB40’s music, sometimes singing with the band.
McLean had some success as a singer in the mid-90s while continuing to produce records. His single “It Keeps Rainin’ (Tears from My Eyes)” is one of his best-known songs during that time, which peaked at #2 on the UK chart.
The singer covered artists like Fats Domino and the Shirelles and opened for acts like UB40, Wet Wet Wet, and Simply Red. Aside from singing, McLean also did lectures at the Westphal School of Music to teach about various Jamaican music production techniques.
Summing Up Our List Of Black British Male Singers
And that is our list of the best black male singers who hailed from the UK. The songs and albums released by these men have certainly influenced the industry, and some are still continuing to provide us with amazing music to enjoy.
We hope that our list has helped you learn about these men. However, this list is far from complete, as there are still plenty of black British male singers out there. Who have we missed? Let us know, and we’ll add them!