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While rap typically thrives on the new — new artists, new styles and new crews — the nominees in the Rap Field this year include a bevy of veteran artists being recognized for making some of the best music of their careers. Jay-Z and Kanye West are in the running in several categories, as well as the prolific Lil Wayne, while a troop of new voices also made the cut, including Nicki Minaj, who is also up for Best New Artist, and prolific Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, who topped the Billboard Hot 100 with his nominated "Black And Yellow."
Best Rap Performance
Rap's diversity is recognized in this all-encompassing category. Multiple GRAMMY winners Jay-Z and Kanye West are nominated for the propulsive "Otis" and the blockbuster rap/R&B trio featuring Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes are up for the sonically adventurous "Look At Me Now." GRAMMY newcomer Wiz Khalifa trumpets his hometown on the anthemic "Black And Yellow"; Nicki Minaj and Drake's "Moment 4 Life" encourages listeners to make the most out of their lives; and the politically minded Lupe Fiasco makes a strong case for perseverance with "The Show Goes On."
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Femals make their mark in this category. Sixteen-time GRAMMY winner Beyoncé teams with OutKast's imaginative André 3000 for the celebratory "Party." Beyoncé's former Destiny's Child cohort Kelly Rowland teams with the omnipresent Lil Wayne for the sensual "Motivation," while Rihanna and Fergie help West and Kid Cudi navigate the frustration of a failed relationship in "All Of The Lights." Rihanna makes her second appearance in the category with the suggestive "What's My Name?" with Drake. Changing the focus from male-female relationships to internal struggle, GRAMMY winner Dr. Dre teams with Eminem and Skylar Grey for the reflective "I Need A Doctor." Rounding out the category is the boast-heavy "I'm On One" by DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne.
Best Rap Song
Wordplay and sonic excellence are showcased in this category, which celebrates songwriters. There's the joy of flaunting your accomplishments on "Otis," written by rap's power duo Jay-Z and West, and the satisfaction that comes with realizing your own innate power on "Look At Me Now," written by Jean Baptiste, Chris Brown, Ryan Buendia, Lil Wayne, Trevor Smith, Wesley Pentz, and Nick Van De Wall. The mental struggle required to overcome adversity is exhibited on "I Need A Doctor," written by Alex Da Kid, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Grey, while enjoying your success is the message in "Black And Yellow," written by Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen and Wiz Khalifa. The agony that comes when love is lost is the focus of "All Of The Lights," written by Jeff Bhasker, Fergie, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter, and West. Each of these songs earned a nomination in other rap categories, a testament to each song's power.
Best Rap Album
A year after Eminem's win in this category for Recovery, a mix of established artists and newcomers will be vying for the trophy. Titans Jay-Z and West teamed for the landmark collaborative album Watch The Throne, which is competing against West's solo album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Minaj earned her first nomination in this category for her debut album Pink Friday. Repeat nominees Lupe Fiasco and Lil Wayne are in the running again for Lasers and Tha Carter IV, respectively. All of the releases nominated for Best Rap Album this year peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Who will take home the awards in the Rap Field? Tune in to the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 12, taking place at Staples Center in Los Angeles and airing live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
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