meta-scriptFor King & Country And Hillary Scott On Why Their "For God Is With Us" Collaboration Was "Meant To Be" |
Photo of (L-R) Luke Smallbone, Hillary Scott, Joel Smallbone
(L-R) Luke Smallbone, Hillary Scott, Joel Smallbone

Photo: Mitchell Schleper


For King & Country And Hillary Scott On Why Their "For God Is With Us" Collaboration Was "Meant To Be"

Christian pop duo FOR KING & COUNTRY transformed "For God Is With Us" from a Christmas song to a year-round message, then tapped Lady A singer Hillary Scott for a powerful new rendition. Now, they're celebrating a 2023 GRAMMY nomination together.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2023 - 05:15 pm

Since 2015, FOR KING & COUNTRY have won four GRAMMYs and only lost twice. One of those losses came in 2017, when Hillary Scott & The Scott Family's "Thy Will" took home the golden gramophone for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. The artists meet again in the same category at the 2023 GRAMMYs — but this time, their names are on the same song.

The Christian pop duo recruited Scott for a collaborative version of "For God Is With Us," a meditation on faith, hope and God's love from their fifth studio album, What Are We Waiting For? Not only does the track swell to bombastic heights as the three vocalists harmonize, but it has proven GRAMMY worthy, nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

It's a full-circle nomination for Scott (who is best known as co-vocalist of country group Lady A) and FOR KING & COUNTRY's Smallbone brothers, Luke and Joel. Their first meeting was at the now fateful 2017 GRAMMYs. "It wasn't on great terms, because, you know, we were nominated in the same categories and she won everything," Joel quips.

Of course, there was never an actual rivalry between the camps. In fact, six years later, they're now friends who cross paths often in the Nashville music scene, and, fittingly, at Sunday church services.

Scott and the Smallbone brothers' camaraderie is apparent as they hop on the phone together for a chat about their nomination. Below, the three discuss the journey "For God Is With Us" took, from its beginnings as a Christmas-inspired FOR KING & COUNTRY track to its fully blossomed version featuring vocals from their pal.

Joel and Luke, you originally released "For God Is With Us" as a single in 2021. Why did you decide to re-record it with Hillary?

Joel: We started crafting it in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. We were working on a Christmas album [2021's A Drummer Boy Christmas], 'cause we felt like, this year of all years, in this country and around the world, we could use the beauty and the importance of what Christmas represents — this idea of joy and love and redemption. We wrote it initially for that project, but the song felt like a red herring on that album. Not because of sentiment; it just didn't feel like it belonged. 

Simultaneously, the owner of our record label, Mike Curb, called with his wife Linda and said, "Hey, we love this song, and we think it's a song that could last all year 'round. What if we pluck it off the Christmas album and pop it on your next project?" So we slipped it off and then wrestled the lyrical bull down by the horns of shifting it just enough to maintain the sentiment of what it always was, but taking it out of the sleigh-bell, Christmasy land [Laughs]. 

[It] became maybe the most spiritually overt song that we've ever written, about the journey of the birth, the death, and the redemption of Jesus Christ. We just stayed sensitive to what the song wanted to be. The ultimate [version] of the song was when Hillary's voice was on it. It was like, "Ah, that's what it was always meant to be." Our only frustration may be that she's not on the original version. 

How else did the song evolve?

Luke: We had lyrics like, "no room in the inn" originally, and we had a ton of sleigh bells. We had all sorts of things, 'cause we were trying to make it a little bit more Christmasy. When we took it off the Christmas album, we had to do the opposite, which may have proved even more difficult because the sonicscape was kind of set. We ended up rewriting quite a lot of lyrics. 

The sonic aspect of it didn't come until really the fourth quarter of the album. I think we were putting it off because we knew it was gonna be difficult to take it out of Christmas land. Eventually, at the last minute, we settled on some of the sonics of what it was, and it finally felt like the song was meant to be.

Hillary, how did you get involved?

Hillary: Honestly, it was a call that I was so honored to receive from Joel and Luke, just gauging my interest in a collaboration. Over the years we've run into each other at so many different events. 

Joel: Specifically running to each other at the GRAMMY Awards. I would debate that's the first time we met each other. 

Hillary: I think you're right. I think it was the '17 GRAMMYs, 'cause [the Hillary Scott & The Scott Family] record [Love Remains] came out in '16, so I think it must have been that following end of January, early February.

Joel: And it wasn't on great terms, because, you know, we were nominated in the same categories and she won everything.

I think what you're saying is that you brought her in as a ringer. 

Joel: Or a good luck charm. 

Luke: We wanna be on the same team now. 

Hillary: I've been, to continue with the teammate metaphor, on the sidelines, such a fan of everything they have been doing. We talked about this in the studio the day I recorded it — it really stretched me to a place, vocally, [where] I got to explore this new part of my voice. It took me out of country into a bit more pop vocals, which was so much fun.

Luke: Pop diva! [Laughs.

Hillary: Not only is the message of the song so hopeful, it is so worshipful. I was a fan of it before I got to feature on it. To be part of it with just two of my dearest friends — and the more we hang out, I feel it is such a special bond and friendship. I know I've personally been so open and excited to collaborate and just really waiting on the timing to line up, and I feel like this was the time. 

After the camps met at the GRAMMYs in 2017, how did that friendship grow? 

Hillary: There were a handful of events where we would run into one another. I know Luke went to a [Tennessee] Titans game with my husband with some friends. There's been a couple different random moments like that, and just a real mutual respect for the music, for their hearts, their calling on what they're doing for the world. It's just so inspiring and positive and uplifting, and something that I was more than honored to be able to stand alongside and support and believe, because the world needs it. 

What was the vibe in the studio when you recorded Hillary's performance? 

Luke: We knew with Hillary coming on that there would be some changes to the instrumentation, but I think [they] made your voice shine. You're an amazing singer; it's like, "How can we make that accentuated even more?" It's one of the coolest vocals I've ever heard you do. 

What was exciting for us is to actually see Hillary really enjoy it; to see her in the vocal booth trying things. For both Joel and I as singers, we know what that feels like, when you're on the precipice of something exciting. I think we got a glimpse of that feeling.

Hillary: I'm so accustomed to having my [Lady A] bandmates, Charles [Kelley] and Dave [Haywood], alongside me. They're the brothers I never had. [But] I felt immediately comfortable with the warmth of Luke and Joel, and also the fact that you're getting this familial experience and coming into this team that's so tight-knit. It was so special. 

On my way out of the studio, I got the most precious tackling hug from Luke's little boy. It was just the sweetest way to end a really beautiful day. To have it culminating now with this nomination, and getting to go to the show with two of my closest friends, I couldn't be happier.

Joel: We might even coordinate our outfits.

Read More: Lady A On How New Project 'What A Song Can Do' Helped Them Rediscover Their Purpose

Why is it so common for country artists to cross over to contemporary Christian and back again? There's this whole sharing of talent and ideas, particularly in Nashville.

Joel: That's what we've seen from other people towards us. There's been this, "Hey, why don't you come along?" kind of extending the invitation. And I think we've obviously been trying to do the same. 

One of the joys is getting to share these moments with each other in this pretty tight-knit community. I think we're all rooting for each other. The country community in general has just magnificently embraced us. It's been this whole world that was unlocked with Dolly Parton with "God Only Knows." 

At the end of 2019, we were asked to perform on the CMAs, and there was this moment — [we were] at Bridgestone [Arena], backstage, we have our little dressing room back there, and it became this little meet-and-greet room where it was like, Little Big Town is there saying, "We're such supporters of you." And I feel like we ran into each other that night, Hillary, because you were performing with Halsey, which was a great performance. We were sort of wooed by this camaraderie and the beauty of the country community, particularly with how they rally around women.

Hillary: Collaborating is one of my favorite things to do in the whole world, and so any chance to do that with people that I love and respect and just really click with creatively, that's it for me. 

So, are y'all ready to put this rivalry to bed?

Hillary: What better way to put it to bed than to win together? 

Joel: We collaborated with Hillary last year more than I think we've collaborated with anyone other than artists on tours, live shows and that sort of thing. So, you know, if you can't beat them, join them. 

Luke: Truth is, when she won all those GRAMMYs, it was actually a thrilling moment for us to see that take place. Hillary, to see your joy, and your family being there — we can joke about the rivalry, but it was actually a thrill. And at the end of the day, "Thy Will" is a ridiculous song, and it was a beautiful thing to witness.

Joel: That's what we say for GRAMMYs 2023 — "thy will."

Hillary: Thy will be done. There you go. I love it.

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Beyonce 2023 GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Beyoncé at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023

Relive the night Beyoncé received a gramophone for Best Dance/Electronic Album for 'RENAISSANCE' at the 2023 GRAMMYS — the award that made her the most decorated musician in GRAMMY history.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 05:12 pm

Six years after her last solo studio album, Beyoncé returned to the music industry with a bang thanks to RENAISSANCE. In homage to her late Uncle Johnny, she created a work of art inspired by the sounds of disco and house that wasn't just culturally impactful — it was history-making.

At the 2023 GRAMMYs, RENAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album. Marking Beyoncé's 32nd golden gramophone, the win gave the superstar the record for most gramophones won by an individual act.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the historic moment Queen Bey took the stage to accept her record-breaking GRAMMY at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

"Thank you so much. I'm trying not to be too emotional," Beyoncé said at the start of her acceptance speech. "I'm just trying to receive this night."

With a deep breath, she began to list her praises that included God, her family, and the Recording Academy for their continued support throughout her career. 

"I'd like to thank my Uncle Johnny, who is not here, but he's here in spirit," Beyoncé proclaimed. "I'd like to thank the queer community for your love and inventing this genre."

Watch the video above for Beyoncé's full speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

A Timeline Of Beyoncé's GRAMMY Moments, From Her First Win With Destiny's Child to Making History With 'Renaissance'

Lizzo GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Lizzo at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023

Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.

Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind. 

"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."

Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."

As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.

Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed

Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

10 Must-See Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs

Harry Styles AOTY GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Harry Styles at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur


GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Celebrates His Fellow Nominees (And His Biggest Fan) After Album Of The Year Win In 2023

Revisit the moment Harry Styles accepted the most coveted award of the evening for 'Harry's House' and offered a heartfelt nod to his competitors — Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo, Coldplay and more.

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2024 - 06:00 pm

After a wildly successful debut and sophomore record, you'd think it was impossible for Harry Styles to top himself. Yet, his third album, Harry's House, proved to be his most prolific yet.

The critically acclaimed project first birthed Styles' record-breaking, chart-topping single, "As It Was," then landed three more top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Late Night Talking," "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" and "Matilda." The album and "As It Was" scored Styles six nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — and helped the star top off his massive Harry's House era with an Album Of The Year win.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit Styles' big moment from last year's ceremony, which was made even more special by his superfan, Reina Lafantaisie. Host Trevor Noah (who will return as emcee for the 2024 GRAMMYs) handed the mic to Lafantaisie to announce Styles as the winner, and the two shared a celebratory hug before Styles took the mic.

"I've been so, so inspired by every artist in this category," said Styles, who was up against other industry titans like Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo and Coldplay. "On nights like tonight, it's important for us to remember that there is no such thing as 'best' in music. I don't think any of us sit in the studio, making decisions based on what will get us [an award]."

Watch the video above to see Harry Styles' complete acceptance speech alongside his collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8 -11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

Here Are The Album Of The Year Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs

public enemy in the 1980s
Rappers Chuck D, Professor Griff, Flavor Flav and DJ Terminator X of Public Enemy in 1988

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images


A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50: Rap's Evolution From A Bronx Party To The GRAMMY Stage

Aug. 11, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. To honor the legacy and influence of this now global culture, presents a timeline marking the genre's biggest moments.

GRAMMYs/Aug 11, 2023 - 02:28 pm

This year marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, a cultural movement that rose from humble beginnings in New York to fuel a worldwide phenomenon.    

Scholars may debate whether its roots precede Aug. 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc debuted his "merry-go-round" technique of playing funk breaks back-to-back to a roomful of teenagers in the Bronx. However, there’s little doubt that this event sparked a flowering of activity throughout the borough, inspiring DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, and, eventually, pioneering MCs like Coke La Rock and Cowboy.  

The music industry eventually caught wind of the scene, leading to formative 1979 singles like the Fatback Band’s "King Tim III" — the funk band featured MC and hypeman Timothy "King Tim III" Washington — and the big one: the Sugarhill Gang’s "Rapper’s Delight."   

Today, rap music is the most popular genre of music, led by superstars such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Eminem, and many others. Despite its massive success, many artists retain their strong ties to communities of color, reflecting the genre’s origins as a form rooted in the streets. 

To mark hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, press play on the playlist below, or head to Amazon Music, Apple Music and Pandora for a crash course in this quintessential stateside artform — further proof of the genius of Black American music.

At the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards, the Recording Academy showcased the breadth of hip-hop's influence via a star-studded, generation-spanning performance. Curated by Questlove and featuring legends such as Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Ice-T, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, Nelly, and GloRilla, the 2023 GRAMMYs' hip-hop tribute showed that hip-hop remains one of the most exciting music cultures — and will likely remain so for the next 50 years. 

A Timeline Of Hip-Hop's Development 

1973 – On Aug. 11, 1973, Clive "Kool Herc" Campbell DJs a back-to-school party organized by his sister, Cindy Campbell, in the rec room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York. The event is widely considered to be the beginning of hip-hop culture.    

1979 – Longtime R&B star and producer Sylvia Robinson launches Sugar Hill Records with her husband, Joe. She discovers their first act in New Jersey, a trio of rapping teenagers — Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank, and Master Gee — and brands the Sugarhill Gang. The Gang’s first single, "Rapper’s Delight," sells millions of copies and becomes the first global rap hit.    

1982 – Co-written by Duke Bootee and Melle Mel and produced by Clifton "Jiggs" Chase, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s hit single "The Message" becomes a turning point in the genre. Bootee and Melle Mel’s stark descriptions of poverty signal to fans and critics that hip-hop is capable of more than just party music.    

1984 – Russell Simmons’ Rush Management organizes Fresh Fest, a groundbreaking arena tour featuring hot rap acts like Run-D.M.C., Whodini, Kurtis Blow, the Fat Boys, and Newcleus as well as b-boy crews such as the Dynamic Breakers. Held during the next two years, it signifies hip-hop’s growing popularity.    

1986 – After bringing frat-boy chaos as the opening act on Madonna’s Virgin Tour, Def Jam understudies the Beastie Boys collaborate with producer Rick Rubin on Licensed to Ill. Spawning the hit single "Fight for Your Right," the album is certified diamond in 2015. 

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50 - beastie boys

Beastie Boys in 1987 | Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

1987 – Thanks to a remix by the late DJ/producer Cameron Paul, rap trio Salt-N-Pepa get teens everywhere twerking — and worry parents and school administrators — with the electro-bass classic, "Push It."   

1988 – Public Enemy release their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Reportedly featuring over 100 samples and focused on Chuck D, Flavor Flav and Professor Griff’s revolutionary lyrics, it’s often cited as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.    

1989 – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince win the first hip-hop GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Performance for their 1988 hit single, "Parents Just Don’t Understand."  

1988 – Thanks to lyrics criticizing law enforcement and depicting raw life in Compton, California, N.W.A spark national controversy with their influential second album, Straight Outta Compton.    

1991 – Ice-T appears in New Jack City, becoming one of the first rappers to headline a major Hollywood film. That same year, he appears on the Lollapalooza tour with his metal group, Body Count, and performs an early version of "Cop Killer." The song becomes a flashpoint in the 1992 presidential election.    

1993 – Wu-Tang Clan release their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). With nine members led by rapper/producer the RZA, the highly unique Staten Island-based collective spawned dozens of solo albums and affiliated acts over the following decades.   

1996 – Naughty by Nature earn the first GRAMMY Award for Best Rap Album with their third album, Poverty’s Paradise. The 1995 set includes a major radio hit in "Feel Me Flow."    

1996 – After dominating most of 1996 with his fourth album, the diamond-certified double album All Eyez on Me, 2Pac is killed in Las Vegas. The unsolved murder of one of the greatest rappers of all time remains a watershed moment in music culture.   

1997 – Days before the release of his diamond-certified second album, Life After Death, the Notorious B.I.G. is killed in Los Angeles. The slaying of two of hip-hop’s biggest artists prompts soul-searching across the music industry and inspired Biggie’s friend, Puff Daddy, to release the GRAMMY Award-winning hit, "I'll Be Missing You."  

1997 – After writing and producing hits for MC Lyte and Aaliyah, Missy Elliott debuts as a solo artist with Supa Dupa Fly. With production help from Timbaland and kinetic music videos, Elliott establishes herself as one of the most innovative acts of the era. 

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50 missy elliott

Missy Elliott | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images 

1998 – After scoring multi-platinum hits with the Fugees, Lauryn Hill strikes out on her own with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The diamond-certified album earns her several GRAMMY Awards, including Album Of The Year.    

1999 – Dr. Dre releases 2001, cementing his legacy as one of the most influential rap producers ever. The album features numerous collaborators, including longtime homie Snoop Dogg and rising lyricist Eminem.    

2001 – On Sept. 11, Jay-Z releases his sixth album, The Blueprint. It becomes a career highlight for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame rapper, and a breakout moment for rising producers Just Blaze and Kanye West.    

2003 – Hit-making duo OutKast split their double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below into separate sides for Big Boi and Andre 3000 — the latter focusing on singing instead of rapping. Their fresh approach results in a diamond-certified project and a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year.    

2008 – Lil Wayne mania peaks with Tha Carter III, which sells over 1 million copies in its first week and earns him a GRAMMY for Best Rap Album.    

2010 – Nicki Minaj releases Pink Friday. The hit album makes her a rare female rap star during a dearth of prominent women voices in the genre.    

2017 – By landing a Top 10 Billboard hit with "XO Tour Llif3" and topping the Billboard 200 with Luv Is Rage 2, Lil Uzi Vert signifies the rise of internet-fueled trends like "SoundCloud rap" and "emo rap."   

2017 – With his fourth album Damn., Kendrick Lamar not only wins a GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, but he also becomes the first rap artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, leading to the fanciful nickname "Pulitzer Kenny."    

2018 – Cardi B releases her debut album Invasion of Privacy, scoring Billboard No. 1 hits such as "Bodak Yellow" and "I Like It." As the best-selling female rap album of the 2010s, the LP won Best Rap Album at the 61st GRAMMY Awards in 2019, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to win the Category.  

A Brief History Of Hip-Hop At 50 cardi b

Cardi B at the 61st GRAMMY Awards | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy 

2020 – In early 2020, rising star Pop Smoke is killed in Los Angeles. Months later, his posthumous debut album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, tops the charts, signifying the rise of drill as a major force in hip-hop culture.  

2021 – At the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2021, the Recording Academy introduced the Best Melodic Rap Performance Category, formerly known as the Best Rap/Sung Performance Category, to "represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre." 

2023 - At the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, seven-time GRAMMY winner Dr. Dre became the recipient of the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award for his multitude of achievements through his innovative, multi-decade career. Dre was first presented with the award at the Black Music Collective's Recording Academy Honors ceremony. 

50 Artists Who Changed Rap: Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem & More