Top Row (l-r): GoldLink, El-P & Killer Mike (Run The Jewels), Rapsody, 6LACK
Bottom Row (l-r): Cardi B, Takeoff, Offset, & Quavo (Migos), Tyler, The Creator
2018 GRAMMYs: 9 Facts About The Rap Field Nominees
Currently comprised of four categories, the Rap Field for the GRAMMY Awards has built a storied legacy since the first Best Rap Performance GRAMMY was handed out to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince for "Parents Just Don't Understand" in 1989.
Best Rap Album was introduced as a new category in 1996 at the 38th GRAMMY Awards, with Naughty By Nature taking home the inaugural honors for Poverty's Paradise. Best Rap/Sung Performance (previously Best Rap/Sung Collaboration) joined the Field in 2002 at the 44th GRAMMY Awards, with Eve and Gwen Stefani winning for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind." Best Rap Song was then added in 2004, at the 46th GRAMMY Awards, as an award recognizing songwriting excellence in the Rap Field. Eminem and Jeff Bass took home the first Best Rap Song GRAMMY for "Lose Yourself."
The nominees for awards in the Rap Field for the 60th GRAMMY Awards have a collective background as varied as the Field itself, so let's take a closer look at a few of the artists — many of them first-time GRAMMY nominees — who've made this year's cut.
1. Cardi B's Meteoric Rise
A certified Instagram star with more than 13 million followers and counting and a former reality TV personality on VH1's "Love & Hip-Hop: New York," Cardi B was able to leverage her internet clout into a recording deal with Atlantic Records in February 2017. "Bodak Yellow," her debut single, exploded on the charts, skyrocketing to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and racking up over 300 million views on YouTube.
"Bodak Yellow," which The New York Times called the song "the rap anthem of the summer," snagged Cardi B her first career nominations this year for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.
2. Kendrick Lamar's Consistency Remains Unchallenged
Coming off a banner year that saw his fourth album, DAMN., conquer the charts, Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game. The album darted to the Billboard 200 summit upon its release, and returned several times after being displaced over the course of the following weeks.
"DAMN. [is] the idea of: 'I can't change the world until I change myself,'" Lamar told Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio. "So when you listen to records like 'PRIDE.,' 'HUMBLE.,' 'LUST.,' and 'LOVE.,' these are all just human emotions and me looking in the mirror and coming to grips with them."
DAMN. is Lamar's third consecutive album to receive a nominations for both Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album, and the album and singles "HUMBLE." and "LOYALTY." have collectively raked in a total of seven nods for the 60th GRAMMY Awards, making him the artist with the second-highest number of nominations this year.
3. Migos' "Bad" Behavior
Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that Georgia-based trap trio Migos have found the secret sauce for churning out summer rap hits.
Ever since a choice remix featuring Drake of the group's breakout single "Versace" in 2013 vaulted their name into recognition in the hip-hop blogosphere, it's been clear that these were three guys worth keeping an eye on.
Their smash hit "Bad And Boujee," featuring 60th GRAMMYs Best New Artist nominee Lil Uzi Vert, was inescapable at the DJ tents on the 2016 summer festival circuit. It became Migos' first-ever No. 1 Hot 100 hit in early 2017.
The rousing success of the lead single helped the group's sophomore LP, Culture, debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Now Migos are first-time nominees, with nods for Best Rap Song for "Bad And Boujee" and Best Rap Album for Culture.
4. Rapsody's Recognition
In the years since, she's built scene cred and made a respected name for herself, with collaborations and features on tracks put out by DJ Premier, Big Daddy Kane, Mac Miller, Estelle, and Kendrick Lamar. In 2016 Rapsody was signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation.
The track list for Rapsody's sophomore studio album, 2017's Laila's Wisdom, reads like a yearbook of respected names in modern conscious rap, packed with features by Anderson .Paak, Busta Rymes, Black Thought, BJ The Chicago Kid, Musiq Soulchild, and more.
Rapsody's "Sassy" is nominated for Best Rap Song, while Laila's Wisdom is up for Best Rap Album.
5. Tyler, The Creator Opens Up
Once the fearless leader of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) — an untamable collective of SoundCloud rappers generally dedicated to pissing off as many people as possible at every available opportunity — rapper/producer, clothing designer, festival promoter and music video director Tyler, The Creator has grown into a cultural force to be reckoned with.
The fruits of that growth are in full bloom on his acclaimed fourth studio album Flower Boy, his most personal and insightful to date. A hand-painted mural of production flourishes and introspective revelations, the album brought Tyler his closest brush with the top spot on the Billboard 200 to date, peaking at No. 2 after a closely-watched battle with Lana Del Rey's Best Pop Vocal Album-nominated Lust For Life.
Flower Boy is nominated for Best Rap Album.
6. Run The Jewels Get Danger(M)ous(e)
A near-perfect storm of GRAMMY-winning talent came together on Danger Mouse's "Chase Me," featuring underground electro-rap gods Run The Jewels (RTJ) and Atlanta OG Big Boi, best known for his work with André 3000 as OutKast.
Written for the soundtrack to the film Baby Driver, the track combines Danger Mouse's trademark retro stylings and expertly crafted drum sounds with RTJ's huge signature basslines and aggressive flow, tag-teaming with Big Boi's smoothly lyrical flips and turns of phrase.
"Chase Me" is nominated for Best Rap Song.
7. 6LACK: From "PRBLMS" To Prosperity
Atlanta-based battle rapper 6LACK (pronounced "Black") has had a huge year in 2017, largely led by his autobiographical single "PRBLMS."
Described by Billboard as spotlighting "vulnerability and honesty in a way the emoji generation can understand," 6LACK's debut album, Free 6LACK, digs deep into the 25-year-old rapper's insights on personal relationships, heartbreak, and the contrasting perks and iniquities of life in the music business.
6lack's come a long way from his first signing with a Miami-based indie label in 2011, a time that he revealed to GQ was his "financial low," which saw him sleeping in the recording studio, on friend's couches, and even occasionally out on the street for lack of a stable housing situation.
"I had some moments where I had to look at myself and be like, 'You better know that this s*** is going to work. Because this situation isn't cool,'" he told GQ. "I knew it was going to happen if I could just get through it."
Free 6LACK is nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and "PRBLMS" is nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance.
8. GoldLink Brings The "Crew" Along For The Ride
Washington, D.C.-area rapper GoldLink's career has been on a steady incline since his 2014 debut mixtape release of The God Complex.
Selected for XXL's "Freshman Class" of rising stars in June 2015 alongside names such as Fetty Wap, Vince Staples and more, GoldLink was soon working with Rick Rubin on his next mixtape, After That, We Didn't Talk, which likewise received widespread acclaim.
Making good on the promise he displayed on his early mixtapes, GoldLink's major label debut LP, At What Cost, arrived this year as a focused semi-autobiographical meditation on the experience of growing up in metropolitan D.C. It featured a host of young talent pulled from the small-room clubs and small venues of the rapper's home city. The lead single "Crew" also caught the attention of prolific Atlanta rapper and author Gucci Mane, who released a popular remix of the track.
GoldLink's "Crew," featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy, is nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance.
9. Jay-Z Eyes More GRAMMYs
With more than two decades of success now under his belt, legendary Brooklyn rapper and music mogul Jay-Z could have easily stayed silent for the rest of his career. Instead, he returned with a full heart and dropped 4:44, one of the most personal and best-reviewed albums of his illustrious career.
"[The album is] so dense with subject matters and all these other things that if it was longer, you wouldn't be able to take it," Jay-Z told Rolling Stone. "It would wear you out. It had to get to a point really quickly."
Already one of the top GRAMMY winners of all time, Jay-Z is looking to move up on the list. Hova leads the pack with the highest number of nominations going into the 60th GRAMMY Awards, with eight nods including Album Of The Year, Best Rap Album, Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year.
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, 2018, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.