Before we get going, let me be very clear: I’m a fan of every artist I’m including on this list. With that being said, c’mon, son. Also, I don’t believe that you have to be a “church-strong” singer to be considered a good singer. Being able to use your voice is just as important as having a strong voice; not everybody can be Teddy Pendergrass, Phyllis Hyman, Whitney or Donny. However, all of the listed folks are singers on their IRS forms, and NONE of us would actually be willing to pay to hear them sing a cappella, is all I’m saying. This disclaimer was for all of you fothermuckers that will undoubtedly say some shit like, “But you don’t have to sound like Aretha to be able to sing ... ” Yeah, boo, I know. Go season some food.
I actually wonder if the Canadian Misty one even knows this song. He loves to trace his roots to the South and Memphis, Tenn., in particular, where you KNOW black folks sing this song. But Aubrey has sung quite a few songs, and while he isn’t the worst singer on the planet at all, can you imagine hearing Drake try to sing this?
He’s part of—and partly responsible for—that new crop of young rappers who all harmonize, but not in the thug way that Bone Thugz-n-Harmony did so fantastically back in the mid-’90s. Now so many sound the exact same over beats that all sound similar. This isn’t a complaint, but these cats are now more harmonizers than rappers—which is fine. When I say my prayers right now, I still ask God to bless all the trap niggas. Still, can you imagine non-Auto-Tune-assisted Future singing, “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us ... ”
3. Jhené Aiko
Honestly, I think that Jhené Aiko and Janet should start up a singing group called the Whisperers. While I enjoy their vocals quite a bit, their voices are a wee bit teeny to stand up in front of my family reunion and lead us in song. In fact, can you imagine Janet Jackson actually doing that? Fuck it, can you imagine family sing-alongs with the Jacksons during Thanksgiving? I imagine that shit sounds like all of the treble one soul can take. With that being said, Jhené hits some pretty strong notes on her latest awesome album, Trip.
I said this on Facebook, but I really don’t even understand how she sings. I’ve heard her in interviews, and the vocal stylings she employs are super interesting. Thing is, I don’t want to hear her sing anything but her own songs like that. I feel like I’d catch “the sugar” or something listening to her sing. Her singing sometimes makes me feel like it might give me epilepsy.
5. Childish Gambino
Donald Glover is an odd duck. Like, he has created some of the blackest platforms lately through Atlanta and his album Awaken, My Love! ... and yet I feel like he’d be entirely out of place at a black church or HBCU. It would be ODD watching him sing “Lift Every Voice,” though I feel like he might know all of the words because he’s just cool like that.
6. Bryson Tiller
Shit, I struggle listening to him sing his own songs and they don’t matter. Imagine him scream whining to James Weldon Johnson’s finest. Perish, Bryson. Just perish.
Now, look, you know I love Rihanna. I will fight you over Rihanna. I’d even consider getting some of her shoes. Satin bows and all. #HiRihanna
8. Young Thug
Much like Future, this is one singing-ass Negro in his songs, and I actually really like Young Thug. Don’t judge me. But I can’t even understand 90 percent of what he says. I know that’s a running joke, but I’m, like, for serious. Close your eyes and try to imagine Thugga singing “Lift Every Voice.” I feel like this nigga singing would sound like the world’s most complex word search. Does that make any sense? Of course it doesn’t.
9. Frank Ocean
My favorite artist on this list. That is all.
10. Tory Lanez
Real spit, I thought Tory Lanez only rapped. I didn’t realize it was him singing because I thought it was a woman in lots of places. That’s no shade; it’s really my fault. Thing is, he’s Canadian. I think that explains it all. I wonder if Canadians even know this song. Also, his real first name is Daystar. He’s got to be the first rapper-singer whose rap name is more normal than his real name.