5 famous musicians from Brooklyn that you should know about

After moving to Brooklyn and unpacking all your stuff, you’re now on your way to become a true Brooklynite. Now that you’re getting accustomed to living in a new environment, it’s a good idea to learn something about the history of Brooklyn. This way, you may adapt faster. Adjusting to your new surroundings can be a stressful process. It can lead to a post-moving depression, which is hard to deal with, but learning about Brooklyn will immediately make it seem far more hospitable. You can start by getting to know some things about Brooklyn’s musical background. After all, people love music and some of them, even the folks who were born and raised in Brooklyn, might be impressed by your knowledge and even learn a thing or two themselves. So, without further ado, here are some of the most famous musicians from Brooklyn.

One of the top rappers of all time

Currently the most popular of all the famous musicians from Brooklyn is a rapper, Shawn Corey Carter. However, you may know him by his stage name: Jay-Z. After releasing his first album Reasonable Doubt in 1996, which was both a commercial and critical success, Jay-Z went on to become one of the best-selling musical acts in history, selling over 100 million records worldwide. Out of all the celebrities that have at one point lived in Brooklyn, he is one of the most commercially successful ones.

a picture of a rap concert
Being the most popular rapper among famous musicians from Brooklyn, Jay-Z’s concerts are always widely attended.

Jay-Z has also received much praise from critics. He has won more Grammy awards than any other rapper (22), while his albums The Blueprint and The Black Album are considered to be modern classics. Other rappers have said that he is a master of his craft. He uses inventive wordplay to keep the listeners constantly engaged.

A hip-hop artist who helped the expansion of alternative rap

Another celebrity rapper born in Brooklyn is Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def. At first, he contributed to albums by established hip-hop groups Da Bush Babees and De La Soul. Afterward, Mos Def formed the rap duo Black Star with another rapper from Brooklyn, Talib Kweli. Even though eponymous debut album was only a moderate commercial success, with it Mos Def brought alternative rap into the eyes of the public.

In 1999, Mos Def released his first solo album, Black on Both Sides. He then followed this release with another four successful solo albums. Apart from rapping, Mos Def is also well-known for his film roles. He has had roles in such films as Monster’s Ball, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Italian Job. This means he is one of the more versatile artists from Brooklyn.

One of the most famous musicians from Brooklyn

Among all the musicians from Brooklyn, Lou Reed is certainly one of the most critically appreciated ones. This singer-songwriter started his career playing the guitar and singing in an extremely influential rock band The Velvet Underground, releasing five albums from 1967 to 1973. The Velvet Underground used a unique mixture of classic rock and a more alternative approach, with Reed’s realistic lyrics depicting the social nuances of life on the streets of New York.

a picture of an electric guitar
Among other things, Lou Reed was famous for his unique guitar playing style.

However, it wasn’t until after The Velvet Underground disbanded that Reed gained widespread fame. After releasing his second solo album Transformer in 1972, Reed became a bona fide star. He kept recording until his death in 2013, releasing 20 solo records and a collaborative album named Lulu (2011) with the leading heavy metal band Metallica. Throughout his career, Reed was one of the more distinctive artists hailing from Brooklyn, due to his characteristic voice and a unique playing style.

An influential drummer

Another famous musician from Brooklyn was Buddy Rich. He was a jazz drummer who is considered to be one of the most respected drummers in the history of music. He was a big-band leader from 1946 until well into his seniorhood. Apart from that, Rich was also a session drummer for stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong.

a picture of a drum kit
Buddy Rich was an amazing drummer and an inspiration to many musicians playing in different genres.

Rich had a unique style of playing. Many of his fellow musicians have described him as a virtuoso on the drums. Apart from his other qualities as a drummer, his speed and the power he exhibited while playing had a profound influence on rock and roll drummers. Namely, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), Ian Paice (Deep Purple).

An acclaimed singer-songwriter

Harry Nilsson was an extremely critically and commercially successful musician. Even though he mostly worked in Los Angeles, his formative years as a talented artist from Brooklyn had a great impact on his music. He mostly played in pop and rock genres, but he also incorporated music from the Carribean.

He started his career in the 1960s by selling some of his songs to other well-known artists. Afterward, Nilsson released several successful albums of his own. He peaked with the records Nilsson Schmilsson from 1971, and the Son of Schmilsson from 1972. His greatest hits include the single Coconut and the song Everybody Talkin’. You can hear the latter song in the classic Dustin Hoffman film Midnight Cowboy (1969). Among his biggest celebrity fans were the members of the Beatles, especially John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

Some of the other famous musicians from Brooklyn include stars such as:

  • Lil’ Kim (a flamboyant hip-hop sensation)
  • Big Daddy Kane (a famous rapper from Brooklyn, and one of the East Coast rap pioneers)
  • Steve Stevens (a virtuoso guitarist playing in Billy Idol’s band)
  • Type O Negative (an acclaimed gothic metal band from Brooklyn)
  • C.C. Deville (the lead guitarist for the successful rock band Poison)

and many others.

Brooklyn: home to a plethora of famous artists

These are just some of the examples of famous musicians from Brooklyn. As you can see, your new home has a rich musical (even cultural) history. That’s why you should be proud that you are now living in a borough where some of the biggest names in music originated. Who knows, maybe Lou Reed used to buy groceries right across the street from you? Or maybe Jay-Z went to the same school you’re going to. If you’re wondering how to cope with moving stress, you should know that learning about your new environment is one of the easier ways to adapt.

When you’re done with getting to know all the famous musicians from Brooklyn, you should also look up other artists from Brooklyn. Celebrity filmmakers, writers, poets – you name it, Brooklyn has it! Adjusting can definitely be very hard, but it sure is a lot easier in such a fascinating environment.