meta-scriptThe Nicki Minaj Essentials: 15 Singles To Showcase Her Rap And Pop Versatility | GRAMMY.com
The Nicki Minaj Essentials: 15 Singles To Showcase Her Rap And Pop Versatility
Nicki Minaj performs at Powerhouse NYC in October 2022.

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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The Nicki Minaj Essentials: 15 Singles To Showcase Her Rap And Pop Versatility

In celebration of Nicki Minaj's new record, 'Pink Friday 2,' take a listen to 15 songs that highlight her talent as an MC and singer.

GRAMMYs/Mar 10, 2023 - 04:40 pm

[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the release of *Pink Friday 2.*]

Nicki Minaj is making some serious moves to round out 2023. On Dec. 8, the 12-time GRAMMY nominee released Pink Friday 2 — her first studio album in five years. Earlier this year, the 12-time GRAMMY nominee announced that she has started her own record label — which has already signed several artists, including Rico Danna, a rapper from her hometown neighborhood of South Jamaica in Queens.

This multi-hyphenate star is clearly only ramping up ahead of the new year. But as her Barbz know, Minaj has been hustling for more than 15 years, and it's still paying off: Just last year, the rapper landed her third No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Super Freaky Girl" — her first unaccompanied chart-topper. 

As the latest Nicki chapter begins, get familiar with the essential songs in her discography that brought her to this point. Starting with the standout track from her very first mixtape, GRAMMY.com presents a roadmap to understanding the music of Nicki Minaj.

"Can't Stop, Won't Stop" (2007)

Minaj collaborated with Lil Wayne — an early mentor — on her first mixtape, Playtime Is Over. It's the first hint of the musical chemistry between the two, as they trade rhymes over the instrumental of "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" by Young Gunz.

"Now, it's not hard to find me/ Top behind me/ You be Harry Potter, and I'll be Hermione," Minaj rapped to Tunechi on the track, foreshadowing how big they'd become together in the years to come.

"Itty Bitty Piggy" (2009)

The breakout song from her third mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty, Minaj declares that she's "the baddest in the game" on "Itty Bitty Piggy."

"It's me — I win, you lose!" she taunts on the track. Elsewhere, Minaj also shows off her confidence by offering to sign her fans' boobs and inviting other female rappers to pick her fruit out and to be her personal shoppers.

"Up Out My Face (Remix)" (2010)

Mariah Carey recruited Minaj for this sassy duet that serves as an early warning shot that she was ready for her pop music close-up. She distinguishes herself by rapping about cheaters and scrubs in American and English accents.

"My Chick Bad" (2010)

Minaj's sports and horror icon-laden verse on Ludacris' "My Chick Bad" shows how she was morphing into an outsized pop culture character of her own.

"Running down the court, I'm dunkin' on 'em, Lisa Leslie," she rapped, namechecking a WNBA star. On the track, she also compares herself to Friday the 13th movie killer Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger from Nightmare on Elm Street.

"Moment 4 Life" (2010)

"Moment 4 Life," which features a guest verse from Drake, is the song that catapulted her from the early fame of appearing on songs from other artists to becoming recognized as a solo artist in her own right. The sixth collaboration between the two friends is also the most acclaimed of their work together, as the song was nominated for Best Rap Performance at the 54th GRAMMYs.

"In this very moment, I'm king," she proclaimed on the song.

"Roman's Revenge" (2010)

A week after dropping jaws with her guest verse as her alter ego "Roman Zolanski" on Kanye West's "Monster" (which also features Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Bon Iver), Minaj released her own full-length song called "Roman's Revenge." It's an electric duet featuring Eminem that finds her spitting lyrical fire like "a dungeon dragon."

"Super Bass" (2011)

Minaj's first solo top five hit — landing at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 — solidified her pop star status with its catchy, sung chorus. The endearingly bouncy love song has earned a rare Diamond certification for sales of more than 10 million in the U.S. — her only single to achieve the feat to date.

"Starships" (2012)

Though Minaj had flirted with EDM-style tracks alongside David Guetta in 2011, her own club track "Starships" has the most soaring energy. Produced by RedOne, the song showcases Minaj's versatility with singing and rapping for an international audience.

"Anaconda" (2014)

A playful interpolation of Sir Mix-A-Lot's 1992 booty-popping hit "Baby Got Back," "Anaconda" is one of many examples of Minaj's sampling prowess. On the fun, uptempo track, she celebrates the pleasures of "missing no meals" and shouts out bodies that have extra to grab. The cheeky tune nabbed Minaj her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Song in 2015.

"Bang Bang" (2014)

An infectious hit that earned Minaj her sole nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, "Bang Bang" positioned Minaj as a pop star alongside Jessie J and Ariana Grande. As she raps on the song, she brings "Nicki full throttle" with her verse, with dextrous rhyming as well as vocals that keep up with the powerful pipes of her collaborators.

"Truffle Butter" (2015)

Arguably the highlight of Minaj's collaborations with Drake and Lil Wayne, "Truffle Butter" finds the three rappers flowing over a slowed-down and pleasingly off-kilter dance beat, which was sampled from Maya Jane Coles' 2011 house music stunner, "What They Say." "Truffle Butter" earned Minaj one of her three GRAMMY nominations in 2016, and her second for Best Rap Performance.

"Chun-Li" (2018)

In this boom-bap-style track, Minaj takes on the role of Chun-Li, the woman in the Street Fighter video game series, spitting her verses over a horn riff that propels the listener into an action adventure. Though the character is not an antagonistic player in the game, Minaj crafts Chun-Li as a villain, spitting, "They need rappers like me/ So they can get on their f—ing keyboards and make me/ The bad guy, Chun-Li."

"Tusa" (2019)

Recognizing Minaj's global appeal, Colombian reggaeton artist Karol G reached out to collaborate on "Tusa." The bilingual song brought some significant firsts for Minaj: it was No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart in the United States, topped pop charts all over South America and was nominated for both Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year at the Latin GRAMMYs in 2020.

"In her verse, she says: 'It's me and Karol G, and we let the rats talk.' I died, I revived, I died and revived again until I understood Nicki Minaj had said my name in her verse," Karol G excitedly told Billboard.

"Do We Have a Problem" (2022)

Minaj's versatility as an MC shines on her recent collaboration with Lil Baby, which is accompanied by a mini movie where she plays a sexy and fearsome double agent. Her lyrical fierceness is distinct from her pop songs, and is a welcome return to her earliest approach to rapping — with her voice taking multiple tempo twists and turns along the way.

"Red Ruby Da Sleeze" (2023)

Minaj's Trinidadian roots shine through as she weaves patois into her rhymes on "Red Ruby Da Sleeze," her first single of the year which also appears on Pink Friday 2. The beat and vocals are sampled from Lumidee's song "Never Leave You (Uh Oh)," As her first release of 2023, "Red Ruby Da Sleeze" helps Minaj make a strong statement that she's still at the top of her game — and has the staying power of a true queen.

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Songbook: The Ultimate Guide To Rihanna's Reign, From Her Record-Breaking Hits To Unforgettable Collabs
(L-R) Rihanna in 2023, 2006 and 2010.

Photos: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation, Greetsia Tent/WireImage, Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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Songbook: The Ultimate Guide To Rihanna's Reign, From Her Record-Breaking Hits To Unforgettable Collabs

As the world eagerly awaits Rihanna's musical comeback, GRAMMY.com takes a deep dive into the superstar's catalog and celebrates her evolution from teen idol to beloved icon.

GRAMMYs/Feb 20, 2024 - 06:37 pm

A chance meeting changed Rihanna's life.

The singer was just 15 years old when she met producer Evan Rogers, who was vacationing with his wife in Barbados. Rogers recognized Rihanna's potential, and invited her to an audition in his hotel suite. 

Shortly after her 16th birthday, Rihanna left her home country for the U.S. to record a demo, which included her breakthrough hit "Pon de Replay." The demo found its way into Jay-Z's hands, and Hov signed the teen artist to Def Jam and the label expedited her 2005 debut album, aptly titled Music of the Sun.

"When I left Barbados, I didn't look back," Rihanna told Entertainment Weekly in 2007. "I wanted to do what I had to do [to succeed], even if it meant moving to America." 

Twenty years later, Rihanna is a renowned entertainer-turned-mogul. She has sold over 40 million albums worldwide, garnered over 12 billion Spotify streams, achieved 14 Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers, and won nine GRAMMY Awards. Even her business ventures have been a massive success, as her Fenty Beauty brand is worth $2.8 billion.

Though it's been close to a decade since Rihanna's last studio album, 2016's ANTI, she reminded the world of her reign with her 2023 Super Bowl halftime show — which also marked her first time taking the stage in five years. Performing hit after hit while unveiling a baby bump, her 13-minute set became one of the most-watched halftime shows of all time with over 121 million viewers. 

In honor of Rihanna's 36th birthday on Feb. 20, GRAMMY.com is revisiting the monstrous hits, ambitious projects, brow-raising visuals, and iconic collabs that propelled her to international stardom — and why it's all put her in a league of her own.

A New Island Girl In Town

True to her Carribean heritage, Rihanna's dancehall-inspired debut single "Pon de Replay" earned the then 17-year-old Barbados native her first entry on the Hot 100 at an impressive No. 2. Her official introduction to the world also hit No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart; she boasts 33 on the tally, second behind only the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna.

Follow-up single "If It's Lovin' That You Want" stalled at No. 36 on the Hot 100, but still whetted fans' appetite — as did her debut album, Music of the Sun, which is mostly comprised of dance-pop and dancehall tracks with hints of R&B (like "Willing to Wait"). Plus, her reimagining of Dawn Penn's 1994 reggae classic "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" is still so fun to listen to after all these years.

A mere eight months later, Rihanna's sophomore effort, 2006's A Girl Like Me, arrived to an eager audience. Defying the sophomore slump, she celebrated her first No. 1 with the ubiquitous lead single "SOS," which famously samples Soft Cell's 1981 hit, "Tainted Love." While A Girl Like Me is filled with high-energy, danceable tracks (including the nostalgic "Break It Off" with Sean Paul), Rihanna's second single was the melodramatic ballad "Unfaithful." 

Penned by then-labelmate Ne-Yo, "Unfaithful" peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100. More importantly, it showed a different side to Rihanna, proving that she could channel deep emotion when the performance calls for it. It also marked Rihanna's first time veering away from her "girl next door" image, as the song's subject matter deals with infidelity.

A Girl Like Me contains many fan favorites, from the laid-back "We Ride" to standouts "Dem Haters" and "Kisses Don't Lie." The latter is a reggae-rock hybrid that sounds like a catalyst for some of Rihanna's edgier tunes like "Breakin' Dishes" from 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad era. Touching ballads"Final Goodbye" and "A Million Miles Away" showcase her voice beautifully, foreshadowing later big-vocal numbers like "Love on the Brain."

An Icon In The Making

Rihanna was a familiar face by 2007, but with the arrival of her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad, she graduated from cookie-cutter pop star to bonafide icon.

Produced by Tricky Stewart, the LP's juggernaut lead single "Umbrella" featuring Jay-Z skyrocketed to No. 1 in 17 countries. Between striking images of Rihanna's silver-painted silhouette in the accompanying video and the now-iconic "ella-ella, eh, eh, eh" hook, "Umbrella" thrust the then 19-year-old into another stratosphere. Her confident delivery also commanded attention in a way fans and critics hadn't heard before.

The transformative era also birthed the gritty "Shut Up and Drive," on which Rihanna channels her inner rock star. The next two singles cracked the top 10: an affectionate duet with Ne-Yo,  "Hate That I Love You," which showed off Rihanna's softer side, and the party-starting, Michael Jackson-sampling "Don't Stop the Music," which cemented her place in the digital era. 

The melancholy "Rehab" is a clever metaphor for lost love, co-written by Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. Despite being Good Girl Gone Bad's lowest-charting single, Timberlake heralded the song as "the bridge for her to be accepted as an adult in the music industry."

Good Girl Gone Bad remains Rihanna's best-selling album and marks her greatest reinvention as she adopted a more rebellious sound. She also won her first GRAMMY in 2008 (Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella") and scored four other nominations, including Record Of The Year. The album's reissue spawned two more No. 1s: "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia," the latter of which acts like a prelude to Rated R, which saw Rihanna exploring darker themes.

Nine months before the release of 2009's Rated R, Rihanna was assaulted by then-boyfriend Chris Brown. On the deeply personal album, she translated her pain into art. Through lead single "Russian Roulette" and bitingly catchy anthems "Stupid in Love," "Fire Bomb," "Photographs," "Cold Case Love," and "The Last Song," Rihanna explored her angst and confusion.

But to focus solely on the domestic violence incident undermines Rihanna's artistic vision. 

Following three multi-platinum albums in a three-year span, Rihanna's rebranding as a rebel at heart reached its apex. The singer had grown in leaps and bounds while taking musical risks, even penning nine of Rated R's 13 tracks (she had no writing credits on Good Girl Gone Bad).

The road to Rihanna's most badass anthems — including "Bitch Better Have My Money" — can be traced back to Rated R. Case in point: Her bravado is loud and clear on "Hard," "Wait Your Turn," and "G4L." On "Rockstar 101," which features legendary rocker Slash, Rihanna declares her power: "Six inch walker/ Big sh— talker/ I never play the victim/ I'd rather be a stalker."

Badgal RiRi returned to her dancehall roots on her fifth No. 1 "Rude Boy," which offsets the album's harrowing motif. Final single "Te Amo" didn't chart, but garnered a great deal of attention as the Latin-infused Stargate production depicts Rihanna being enticed by a female love interest. 

Rated R showcased Rihanna's undeniable star power, and allowed her to shed her good-girl image once and for all.

A Partygoer's Dream

Following the career-pivoting Rated R, 2010's Loud offered a welcome return to the West Indian artist's earlier sound. The album feels like one big celebration of life, as evidenced by Rihanna's fire-engine red hair and No. 1 singles "Only Girl (In the World)" and "What's My Name?" (the latter of which was Rih's first collaboration with Drake).

Best described as "Don't Stop the Music" 2.0, the effervescent "Only Girl" marked her eminent return to the dance floor and took home a GRAMMY for Best Dance Recording in 2011. While "What's My Name?" may not outshine Rih and Drizzy's other collabs — including 2011's "Take Care" or 2016's "Work" — the second she sings, "Hey, boy, I really wanna see if you can go downtown with a girl like me," it's impossible not to whine your waist to the riddim.

Easily one of Rihanna's most overlooked hits, "Cheers (Drink to That)" is built around an unexpected sample of Avril Lavigne's 2002 hit "I'm With You," but it works surprisingly well as a party anthem. That same carefree spirit can be heard in the feminist track "Raining Men," which features Nicki Minaj — their first of two collabs, as they joined forces again for "Fly," the final single off the rapper's iconic Pink Friday album. 

A playful ode to sadomasochism and bondage, "S&M" contains some of Rihanna's most provocative lyrics: "Sticks and stones may break my bones/ But chains and whips excite me," she declares on the chorus. 

Banned in 11 countries upon its release, the accompanying video features Rihanna tied up in pink rope, dancing with a blowup doll, and donning a Playboy bunny-esque costume as damning newsreels about herself flash across the screen. But Rihanna's love of kink made her an even bigger star: "S&M" produced a remix with Britney Spears and earned Rihanna her 10th No. 1 single. With this feat, she became the youngest artist to attain the most chart-toppers in a five-year span.

On "Man Down," Rihanna's patois is in full effect as she takes listeners through a gripping tale about murdering her abuser. "What started out as a simple altercation/ Turned into a real sticky situation," she laments in the opening verse, amplified by siren noises in the background. There's something so satisfying about Rihanna's Bajan accent as she unfurls "Rum-pum-pum-pum" repeatedly over an intensifying reggae beat that would make Sister Nancy and Bob Marley proud.

Nominated for Album Of The Year at the 2021 GRAMMYs, Loud is Rihanna's second most commercially successful LP — and for good reason. It was especially refreshing to see Rihanna emerge from one of the darkest periods of her life as exuberant as ever.

An Unapologetic Queen

Sonically and thematically, Talk That Talk doesn't break new ground, but Rih's DGAF attitude is front and center with plenty of sexual innuendos: Songs like "S&M" and "Rude Boy" seem pretty tame next to "Cockiness (Love It)," which features longtime friend-turned-boyfriend A$AP Rocky on its remix. "Suck my cockiness/ Lick my persuasion/ Eat my poison/ And swallow your pride down, down," she commands in the tantalizing chorus.

At just over a minute long, "Birthday Cake" leaves nothing to the imagination ("It's not even my birthday, but he wanna lick the icing off"). Rihanna controversially released a full-length version in the form of a remix with Chris Brown.

On an album that mostly sees Rihanna singing about her sexual fantasies, "We All Want Love" pulls back the curtain as it reveals her desire for true love: "And some say love ain't worth the buck/ But I'll give my last dime/ To have what I've only been dreaming about." 

Her longing continues in "Where Have You Been," which flaunts Rihanna's versatility, flipping Geoff Mack's 1959 country song "I've Been Everywhere" into an infectious EDM banger. Lead single "We Found Love" is undeniably the biggest hit to stem from the Talk That Talk era, spending 10 consecutive weeks atop the Hot 100. 

Boosting Calvin Harris' career, "We Found Love" presents one juxtaposition after the other: dark yet gleaming, euphoric yet sobering, fraught yet hopeful. Rihanna relies on more than just evocative lyrics to tell her story; accompanying synthesizers and alarm bells help to paint a picture as well. Met with controversy, its intense visuals portraying a drug-fueled, toxic relationship — and featuringwhat many speculated was a Chris Brown look-alike — earned RiRi a GRAMMY for Best Long Form Music Video in 2013.

Seven years into an already extraordinary career, 2012's Unapologetic became Rihanna's first album to debut at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Its lead single "Diamonds" resonated in an equally major way, giving Rih her 12th No. 1 on the Hot 100.

Written by Sia, the power ballad kicked off another exciting era for the Barbadian singer, who unleashes an impassioned vocal performance. One of Rihanna's most precious offerings to date, "Diamonds" emerged as a self-love mantra due to its uplifting "Shine bright like a diamond" chant.

Vocally, Rihanna's strength lies in her ability to evoke raw emotion à la "Stay." Featuring Mikky Ekko, the stripped-down, slow-burning piano ballad narrowly missed the top spot on the Hot 100 but gave Rihanna her 24th top 10 hit, surpassing Whitney Houston's record of 23 in 2013.

Her swagger is boisterous in "Phresh Out the Runway," "Jump," and strip club anthem "Pour It Up," but "Nobody's Business" really drives home the album's theme of being unbothered. Her decision to join forces with Chris Brown yet again perplexed fans and critics alike, though the track itself is an irresistible production that features a genius interpolation of Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel."

Further down the track list, "Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary" is as autobiographical as it gets, and further taps into Rihanna's emotionally vulnerable side. "Mr. Jesus, I'd love to be a queen/ But I'm from the left side of an island/ Never thought this many people would even know my name," she pleads in the seven-minute two-parter.

Unapologetic spawned fewer hit singles compared to Rihanna's previous efforts. Its win for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2014 GRAMMYs, however, proved that Rihanna's reign wasn't letting up anytime soon.

While recording her then-forthcoming album, ANTI, Rihanna delivered what is arguably the single most unapologetic moment of her career: "Bitch Better Have My Money." The backstory is almost inconceivable given Rihanna's awe-inspiring billionaire status, but in 2009, Rihanna faced bankruptcy due to her accountants mishandling her funds — and thus "Bitch" was born six years later in 2015.

With lyrics like "Your wife in the backseat of my brand new foreign car" over a cryptic-sounding trap beat and an accompanying video depicting kidnapping and torturing her debtors, "Bitch" is not for the faint-hearted. The one-off single is so quintessentially Rihanna that it notably kicked off her Super Bowl halftime show.

An In-Demand Collaborator

While bestowing hit after hit on her own, Rihanna generously lent her distinct voice to some of her biggest peers. 2008 marks one of the earliest instances of her Midas touch: She flirts with funk in Maroon 5's underappreciated "If I Never See Your Face Again" before hopping on T.I.'s "Live Your Life," which shot straight to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

In 2009, Rihanna joined Jay-Z and Kanye West for the militant "Run This Town," sounding defiant as ever in the intro. She was called upon again for West's horn-laden "All of the Lights," flying solo on the hook followed by a star-studded choir that included Alicia Keys, John Legend, Fergie, and Elton John. Both larger-than-life productions won GRAMMYs for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

In between joining forces with Hov and Ye, Rihanna assisted Eminem in "Love the Way You Lie," which struck a nerve with many for its gut-wrenching lyrics shedding a light on abusive relationships. (Rih recorded an equally moving sequel for her Loud album.) Three years later, the two confronted their inner demons in "The Monster," and their musical chemistry scored a GRAMMY in 2015 for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

Amid smash collabs, Rihanna and Coldplay's intricate "Princess of China" number gets lost in the shuffle, but it speaks to her charm as it's the band's first album (2011's Mylo Xyloto) to feature another artist. Another overlooked jam, her sultry "Can't Remember to Forget You" duet with Shakira sees both stars trade lines about struggling to let go of an undeserving lover.

On paper, a collaboration between Rihanna, Kanye West, and Sir Paul McCartney may seem strange, but the unlikely trio is further proof that opposites attract. Their "FourFiveSeconds" is a pop-folk hybrid with a universal message about carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. It's yet another example of Rihanna's willingness to push past her comfort zone to create something unique.

A year later, Rihanna got listeners on their feet by way of the Taylor Swift-penned "This Is What You Came For" with Calvin Harris. Understated compared to the duo's previous megahits ("We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been"), Harris' signature DJing style and Rih's ethereal vocals are a perfect match.

In 2017, Rih, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller dropped the song of the summer with "Wild Thoughts," which heavily borrows from Carlos Santana's 1999 GRAMMY-winning "Maria Maria." It may be DJ Khaled's song, but RiRi owns it from the very moment she utters, "I don't know if you could take it/ Know you wanna see me nakey, nakey, naked." The bop reached No. 2 on the Hot 100.

She spits bars in Kendrick Lamar's "Loyalty" and "Lemon" with N.E.R.D., the latter of which comes close to rivaling your favorite rappers' verses: "You can catch me, Rih, in the new La Ferrar'/ And the truck behind me got arms/ Yeah, longer than LeBron/ Just waitin' for my thumb like The Fonz."

No matter what genre Rihanna touches or what artist she links up with, she brings her full self to each session whilst completely immersing herself into the music — taking on different personas to make the collab well worth it.

An Artist Fully Realized

With 13 No. 1s and twice as many top 10 hits under her belt, Rihanna set out to create timeless music instead of chasing a radio-friendly formula with her 2016 magnum opus, ANTI.

But that shift began with 2015's criminally underrated "American Oxygen." Her most political statement at the time, the goosebump-inducing lyrics detail Rihanna's journey as an immigrant, foreshadowing her then soon-to-be massive Fenty Beauty success. "We sweat for a nickel and a dime/ Turn it into an empire," she sings in the chorus.

Released four years after Unapologetic — her longest gap between albums at the time — ANTI illustrated Rihanna's greater desire for quality over quantity. "I needed the music to match my growth," she told Vogue in 2016 about the making of ANTI. "I didn't want to get caught up with anything the world liked, anything the radio liked, anything that I liked, that I've already heard. I just wanted it to be me."

The black-and-white, red paint-splattered album cover signals a rebirth, featuring a real-life image of Rihanna as a child. ANTI lives up to its name in its first 40 seconds, via opening track "Consideration." The minute she declares, "I got to do things my own way, darling," it's apparent that ANTI is not your average Rihanna album.

Lead single "Work" is the closest to pre-ANTI Rihanna on an album that defies expectations. But the dancehall masterpiece is one of a kind for Rih's refusal to water down the Jamaican patois (different from her native language of Bajan Creole) — proving that she is fully aware of her impact as one of the biggest Caribbean-born artists to make it in the U.S.

Many non-understanding listeners described it as "gibberish" at the time. Yet, the general public didn't seem to mind: About a month after its release, "Work" became Rihanna's 14th and longest-running chart-topper on the Hot 100. Weeks later, ANTI became her second LP to top the Billboard 200 chart. Subsequently, Rihanna held the No. 1 spots on the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously, her second time achieving such an impressive feat.

Read More: How Rihanna's "Work" Reinvigorated Dancehall

ANTI is full of pleasant surprises that show off her artistry. Rihanna comes out of left field with the Prince-inspired "Kiss It Better," the album's second single, which sees the superstar falling back on addictive sex that "feels like crack" to justify a destructive relationship. "Same Ol' Mistakes" is a cover of psychedelic rock band Tame Impala's "New Person, Same Old Mistakes" — her first time remaking another artist's song for her own album since "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" on Music of the Sun. The Western-themed "Desperado" lends itself particularly well to covers by country artists, while the Dido-sampling "Never Ending" conveys the uncertainty she feels about entering a new relationship.

Elsewhere on ANTI, Rihanna drunk dials an ex ("Higher"), compares smoking weed to her lover ("James Joint"), and chastises a guy for getting emotionally attached after their fling ("Needed Me"). The latter song contains one of Rihanna's most empowering lyrics: "Didn't they tell you that I was a savage?/ F— ya white horse and ya carriage," she asserts in the pre-chorus.

Her voice sounds stronger than ever on "Love on the Brain," a doo-wop ballad resembling Etta James. But Rihanna makes it her own thanks to the bluntness of lines like "It beats me black and blue but it f— me so good."

The deep cuts on ANTI aren't merely fillers, and even rival some of the album's biggest hits. For instance, "Sex with Me" is featured on the deluxe edition as a bonus track, but managed to crack the Hot 100 at No. 83 and reach No. 8 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. Furthermore, the deluxe edition consists of 16 tracks, half of which topped the Dance Club Songs chart — smashing the record (previously held by Katy Perry's Teenage Dream) for the most No. 1s from a single album.

Accolades aside, ANTI is proof that magic happens when an artist of Rihanna's caliber follows their own instincts in pursuit of creating a body of work — one that can outlast them and continue to inspire generations to come.

Ever since ANTI, Rihanna's devoted fanbase has been begging for a new album, with Rih playfully trolling them with responses like "I lost it" and Instagram captions that read, "Me listening to R9 by myself and refusing to release it."

Her much-awaited return to music came at the tail end of 2022. The hitmaker twice contributed to the GRAMMY-nominated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack: "Born Again" and "Lift Me Up," the latter of which helped Rihanna score her first Oscar and Golden Globe nominations in 2022 and 2023, respectively. With the glorious "Lift Me Up," she found herself in the top 10 for the first time since 2017's "Wild Thoughts."

While the world is still anticipating her ninth studio album, Rihanna — now a mom of two boys — continues to make her own rules and move at her own pace. But as she's proven time and time again, it's always worth the wait.

The Rihanna Essentials: 15 Singles To Celebrate The Singer's Endless Pop Reign

The Rise Of Ice Spice: How The "Barbie World" Rapper Turned Viral Moments Into A Full-On Franchise
Ice Spice

Photo: Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images

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The Rise Of Ice Spice: How The "Barbie World" Rapper Turned Viral Moments Into A Full-On Franchise

Ice Spice charmed the masses with her flirty rhymes and playful, Bronx-born personality. Now with four nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs — including Best New Artist — she's solidified her position as Gen Z rap royalty.

GRAMMYs/Jan 31, 2024 - 06:53 pm

From Slick Rick to Cardi B, rap has long been synonymous with exorbitant personalities. But in 2023, Ice Spice showed that you can still make noise with subtle charm.

The 24-year-old charmed the masses with her nonchalant flow and demeanor, paired with boisterous Bronx drill beats. Just two years into her career, Ice Spice was coined the "People's Princess" — a title first given to the late Princess Diana, whose name serves as the title for the rapper's breakthrough single. 

While Ice's Bronx pride, Y2K fashion and relatable disposition contribute to her appeal, a fan noted on Twitter that her most prominent qualities mirror Diana's: "Resilient, determined and blazing their own trail - in [her] own way." Even her mentor (and "Princess Diana" collaborator) Nicki Minaj co-signed the royal title: "Catch it!!" she exclaimed in a March 2023 Instagram Story.

Ice Spice's reign was solidified by countless accolades in 2023, as she scored four top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and over a billion streams. And when it came to the 2024 GRAMMYs, her impact is apparent: not only did Ice Spice earn her first four nominations, but she's the only rapper up for Best New Artist. (She also earned nods in the Best Rap Song and Best Song Written For Visual Media Categories for her "Barbie World" collaboration with Minaj, as well as Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her "Karma" collaboration with Taylor Swift.)

2024 GRAMMYs: Explore More & Meet The Nominees

The first inklings of Ice Spice's virality came in 2021, when she began making music with her college friend-turned-producer and fellow Bronx native RIOTUSA. That year, the rapper took part in TikTok's "Buss It" challenge, with her seductive dance moves going viral. She quickly capitalized on the moment, using her growing number of followers to draw attention to her music. She soon released debut songs like "Bully Freestyle" and "Name of Love," but it was the following year that officially ignited her rap takeover.

In the summer of 2022, Ice Spice's independently released "Munch (Feelin' U)" single was virtually inescapable following a Drake co-sign, nearly 120 million Spotify streams and a music video that became a meme (Lil Nas X even donned Ice Spice's video look for Halloween). The song's rapid popularity led to a deal with 10K Projects and Capitol Records shortly after its release. But it also had naysayers questioning if the rapper was an industry plant and doubting her career success.

"Everybody was tryna be like, 'Oh, she a one-hit wonder,'" Ice Spice said of her critics in an episode of Genius' "Verified" series. "But now, it's like, 'What? Two-hit wonder?'"

When it comes to virality, Ice Spice has the Midas Touch — and she's well aware of it. Whether it's her signature phrases "grah" and "like", her passion for twerking ("But I'm still shaking ass in the deli", she exclaims on "Deli"), or self-affirmations that are perfect for Instagram captions ("How can I lose if I'm already chose? Like," she assures on "Bikini Bottom"), her calm, cool and collected confidence has held a tight grip on social media and beyond.

"I wouldn't consider myself a lyricist. Obviously, lyrics go into music and I do think about them, and I do be having bars in my music but they're just super simple," she told Complex in October. "I want them to be digestible, I don't want them to fly over people's heads and they never catch it. I want people to hear it right away and be like, 'OK, that was cute.' But it's also fun at the same time."

Following the release of her Like ..? EP in January 2023, Ice Spice proved her versatility and knack for hit-making with an onslaught of both niche and A-list collaborations. Massive singles like "Boy's a Liar Pt. 2" with fellow Gen Z princess PinkPantheress and the "Princess Diana" remix with Nicki Minaj peaked at No. 3 and 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.

In fact, "Diana" helped Ice Spice already land a history-making feat: it marked the first time that No. 1 co-billed by two women topped Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart since its launch 34 years ago. And through that collab, Ice Spice gained a mentor in Minaj.

"She be telling me to learn from her mistakes — just watching her in general, if you pay close enough attention, you gonna see what you should do," Ice shared with The Guardian about Minaj. "I love to talk to her about things that I can't talk about publicly — it just means so much to be able to have somebody like her."

Ice Spice further proved her mainstream appeal last May, propelling into the pop stratosphere alongside Taylor Swift. The two joined forces for a remix of Swift's Midnights track "Karma," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the rapper's highest-charting song to date as of press time. 

"I relate to Ice in many ways, but I think her dedication and focus is what blew me away from the very start," Swift, who brought the rapper on stage at the New Jersey stop of her blockbuster Eras Tour, shared with Variety in September. "She's extremely professional without being cold. Playful and fun without ever taking her eye off the prize. 

"She knows what is and isn't 'her' and sets those boundaries with grace," Swift continued. "She studies the industry and other artists' careers but is very clear about charting her own definitive, original path. It's her ability to carefully find that balance that impresses the hell out of me."

Ice Spice kept the momentum going last June, latching on to the summer's biggest pop culture moment — the Barbie movie. And what better way to celebrate the occasion than with the Head Barb herself?

The rapper reunited with Minaj for "Barbie World," which sampled Aqua's 1997 Eurodance smash "Barbie Girl" and soundtracked the closing credits of the blockbuster. The drill-meets-Jersey-club collaboration debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ice Spice's fourth top 10 hit in just four months. 

"Where we come from, our borough is often 'judged' — people have a lot of mixed opinions on it. So to be able to have such an iconic song with the type of genre that comes from where we're from is awesome," producer RIOTUSA told Billboard of the track. "[We] get to shed new light on the genre and bring it to a bigger place."

Ice Spice wrapped a momentous year with multiple festival performances including Rolling Loud and Hot 97's Summer Jam, a Best New Artist win at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards, a brilliant partnership with Dunkin' Donuts (the commercial announcement of the Ice Spice Munchkins Drink featured actor and Dunkin superfan Ben Affleck), a musical guest debut for the season 49 premiere of "Saturday Night Live" in October (Swift made a surprise cameo to introduce her new BFF), and opening for Doja Cat's Scarlet Tour in November.

And just one week into 2024, the rapper spawned her first viral moment of the year, sharing a snippet of a hilariously unserious bar, "Thinking you the s—, bitch you not even the fart." The clip was a preview of her first release of 2024, aptly titled "Think U The S— (Fart)," which racked up eight million views on the teaser alone.

On Jan. 30, Ice Spice confirmed that her forthcoming album (titled Y2K, which alludes both to her style and her January 1, 2000 birth date) is coming this year; though she didn't announce a release date, she did reveal it's "almost finished". On the heels of a massive 2023, there's no doubt Ice Spice is ready to continue her rap domination — one drill anthem at a time.

"I always felt like I could do anything I tried to do, but especially now it feels like anything is possible," she told The Guardian. "Being at award shows, being on magazine covers, getting huge features — all those moments made me feel like, Wow, we're really doing it big."

The Official 2024 GRAMMYs Playlist is Here: Listen To Songs By SZA, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, & More

David Guetta Reveals The "Accidents Of Life" That Birthed Hits With Bebe Rexha, Nicki Minaj & More
David Guetta performs at the 2023 Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary.

Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

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David Guetta Reveals The "Accidents Of Life" That Birthed Hits With Bebe Rexha, Nicki Minaj & More

With two nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, David Guetta is still proving to be one of dance music's stalwarts. Hear from the hit-making producer about how some of his biggest hits with Sia, Kid Cudi and more came to be.

GRAMMYs/Jan 25, 2024 - 07:24 pm

After more than 30 years as a DJ/producer, David Guetta knows the secret to success within dance music.

"What made me famous is to have songs that could be timeless and crossover into the pop world, but are still being played by all the DJs," the French producer says. "It's always a big challenge to do a dance record that every DJ would play, but at the same time would touch the emotions enough so that people that are not in clubs or in festivals would be touched by it. It's that duality that I have to fight every time."

With 14 No. 1 dance hits and two GRAMMYs to his name now — as well as two more nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs — Guetta flashes a coy smile and says, "I think I've found a few tricks to make it work."

Guetta is one of the inaugural nominees in the new Best Pop Dance Recording Category. He has not one, but two songs in Category: his latest collab with Bebe Rexha, "One In A Million," and his Haddaway-sampling hit with Anne-Marie and Coi Leray, "Baby Don't Hurt Me." 

As the only artist with two nominations in the Category, Guetta's latest GRAMMY nods further solidify his legacy as one of dance music's biggest crossover acts. While he's been making a name for himself since getting his start on the Parisian underground, Guetta broke through to the mainstream U.S. market with his serendipitous collab with Kelly Rowland, "When Love Takes Over," in 2009.

Since then, he's made countless hits for himself and others. He's the in-demand producer behind the Black Eyed Peas' 2009 smash "I Gotta Feeling" who could get Nicki Minaj to sing ("Turn Me On") and Sia to step into the spotlight ("Titanium"), all the while helping to build new talent, such as his frequent collaborator (and current co-nominee) Rexha. 

His latest single is with another pop princess, Kim Petras, a fast-paced dance floor collab titled "When We Were Young" that samples Supertramp's "The Logical Song." Just after making tour stops in South America, Guetta sat down with GRAMMY.com to share the stories behind some of his biggest hits, from his crossover breakthrough with Kelly Rowland to his latest GRAMMY-nominated collab with Bebe Rexha. 

"When Love Takes Over" feat. Kelly Rowland (2009)

Kelly Rowland, I have to give an homage to her because she is the first pop artist that came to me. She was in a club in Cannes where I was playing. All the records I did before that were with this incredible vocalist, Chris Willis. I had some very big dance records, like "Love is Gone" for example. That was really massive in our culture, but I never worked with a big famous pop artist.

So, I'm in Cannes DJing, and I play the instrumental of "When Love Takes Over," and Kelly comes to the DJ booth and asks me, "What is this record?" I said, "It's just a beat I made," and she said, "I really like it. Can I try to write something on it?" 

Crazy, right? I have so much respect for her. I'm grateful to her for life because to go to a DJ that you don't even know, hear a beat and spot that it is a hit? That's big! 

We did this collab, and the record went to No. 1 in the U.K. and charted in 30 countries or something crazy, and this was the first step for me into a big crossover. Right after that, I had "Sexy B—" with Akon, and that was massive and very influential. One of the most influential records I've made, I think. 

"Sexy B—" feat. Akon (2009)

I'm in the U.K. at BBC One radio performing "When Love Takes Over" with Kelly Rowland. Akon is performing after me, and he says "Ah, it's you! You also did 'Love is Gone.' I love those records. Let's do something," so I booked at Metropolis in London that same night. I bring him to the studio, and we did "Sexy B—" that night.

In this industry, it's a lot about "You're only as good as your last hit," so many people basically look at the top 10 say, "Okay, let's work with this guy because it's current." I was never too much like that. I'm just looking for talent, really, and the accidents of life. Because if you look at all my biggest hits, they happen by accident.

Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" (2009)

Dance music is not usually the main leading genre. You have more pop or hip-hop, some moments it was rock, but dance was always more niche. At the same time, it has a huge influence on pop. I've seen an interesting phenomenon, though: Every time there's a major crisis and people are really stressed and suffering, dance music rises.

At the end of the 2008 financial crisis that was so tough on people, I produced "I Gotta Feeling" for Black Eyed Peas, and it was like a revolution at this time. Everyone was like, "What is this?" and then from one day to the other, every radio was playing dance music all day. 

Now, we're in the second time. We've just gotten out of COVID, we have the war in Ukraine and Russia. "I Gotta Feeling" was such a happy song, which is not what I do usually, and again, now, "I'm Good (Blue)" is having the same type of moment. I think dance music has the power to help people forget everything, just live in the moment and feel good. 

"Memories" feat. Kid Cudi (2010)

"Memories" with Kid Cudi is also funny to see how everything is connected — because in the case of "Memories," I'm shooting the video of "I Got A Feeling" with Black Eyed Peas. One of the cameos of the video is Kid Cudi, and I'm also a cameo in the video. I was like, "Oh wow, you're Kid Cudi? I love your work! We should do something together," and boom. We book the studio the day after, and we have "Memories.

"Titanium" feat. Sia (2011)

Titanium was a similar situation. Sia was a very cool and very respected artist, but she was not a big pop artist. Funnily enough, at the time, she decided to stop being an artist and just be a songwriter.

We were working together as a producer and a songwriter for another artist, but when I heard her voice on that record, I was like, "It's impossible. No one is going to be able to sing like this." I literally begged her to stay on the record, and she was like, "Look, I'll do it, but I don't want to do any interviews. I don't want to do a video. I don't want to do tours. I don't want to do any of it." I'm like, "Okay, no problem. Just give me your voice."

After it was released, she became a huge artist. I remember being in the studio with her after "Titanium," and she would receive messages from Rihanna and Beyoncé fighting for her songs. It was really crazy, really incredible. She became one of the most respected artists on the planet. 

"Hey Mama" feat. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack (2015)

I have a long history with Bebe, and we started to work together with "Hey Mama." It's a funny story because I had the sample, and I had Nicki's rap, and I felt the sample was my chorus. It took me two years to understand that the sample needed to be the post, and I needed a real chorus. Imagine spending two years on a record. I was going crazy!*

I knew it was a hit, but it was not totally there. I realized I needed to push the chorus back, make it a post and play some chords.

When you are in the studio, there's studio A, B, C and D — and the door of Studio D was open. I heard this crazy voice, and I come in the door like, "Wow, who's singing?" That was Bebe! She was not an artist yet, but a songwriter. She was writing with a friend of mine and asked, "Can you guys try something on this hook that makes me suffer so much?" In 15 minutes, they wrote the hook. It was insane.

In the middle of the record being released, she asked to feature on the record because she wanted to start an artist career of her own. We changed the credit, then she became a big artist. 

"I'm Good (Blue)" with Bebe Rexha (2022)

Funnily enough, we made this song four years before the release. I was living in London at the time, and Bebe texted me, "I'm going to be in London. Do you want to do something?"

We were writing in the studio, and just for the vibe, we tried that idea. Honestly, I don't use many samples — maybe only three records in my career — but I was like, "Imagine bringing back that happy vibe, it would be so much fun, and those chords are so good." 

So we did it, and honestly, no one believed in it. Still, as a DJ, I try to only play my own productions, so I made a festival version with that exact hook, and I played it at a festival. A few years later, someone sampled it, used it on TikTok, and it was a huge hit. Bebe texted me like, "Do you know what's happening on TikTok?" 

She showed me and she's like, "You got maximum two weeks to finish the record." So I finished the record! 

Two days before it was released, I played it at a festival in the U.K., and everyone was singing all the words. I could not believe it. The record was not out! Usually it's a struggle to build a record, sending it to DJs and to have the support of radio and streaming platforms. Now, it was already a hit before it was out. That's crazy!

"Baby Don't Hurt Me" with Anne-Marie and Coi Leray (2023)

I did this as a follow-up to "I'm Good (Blue)," digging in the classic dance music records from the '90s and 2000s. To be completely honest, I come from house music, and at that time, I would not play Euro dance records. I would be like, "Oh, this is so cheesy." But with life experience, you learn to respect the melodies. I look at it in a very different way, because I'm probably less snobbish with age.

I think a lot of producers are obsessed with technicalities and get caught on "Oh, I found this special way of side-chaining reverb and panning it." At the end of the day, if you have a melody, you can go up against the best-sounding record in the world and always win. 

Those huge Euro records from that time had massive melodies, and "What is Love?" That record is insane! A lot of my ideas for songs come from my DJ sets, and I was playing a mashup of "What Is Love?" and I could see everyone was screaming as much as when I play "Titanium" or those massive records. 

At the same time, Max Lousada, who's the head of Warner Music Group, hooked me up with Ed Sheeran. He also loved "I'm Good." I have this crazy video of him jumping on stage with me when I'm playing it and going absolutely crazy. I was so honored because this guy is such a genius. Ed was like, "Let's have fun," and then we wrote a few songs. I have a few weapons to put out in the year to come, and one of the songs was "Baby Don't Hurt Me." He wrote the verses. 

Anne-Marie is my friend, and she is very good friends with Ed Sheeran. We'd been talking about making a record, the three of us, so I called her. She's one of the most fun people I know, and most down to Earth. So easy to work with, so I had two verses from her. 

Then one day, another crazy accident! I made a remix for Coi Leray of the song "Players" — I was in L.A., and I felt it was cooler to play it for her in the studio where she was recording her album. So I go to the studio and play the remix, and she goes absolutely crazy. She jumps on the table and starts to dance. It was such a vibe, so positive. 

She's like, "David, why don't you stay with us? We have two more days to finish the album." I'm like, "Of course," and there I am making hip-hop beats. We did a few records, one of them being "Make My Day" with a sample of "Pump the Jam" for her album. And we did another one with a sample of James Brown called "Man's World." I really love that record. 

So I produce those two records with Coi, and I'm like, "Can we do a swap? Can you do a verse on my record?" And that's how she did "Don't Hurt Me." If I had asked the record company, it probably would never have happened. You need to give to receive. 

I didn't go to the studio thinking I'm gonna ask her that. I just did it because I thought she was amazing and I was super happy to help her with the album. I'm sure she's going to be a massive artist, and she jumped on my record. 

"One In A Million" with Bebe Rexha (2023)

[Bebe and I] have this special relationship together. I think she's extremely talented. The job I respect the most in our industry is songwriting, and she's a great songwriter. She can sing, but she can write too. That is a different level of looking up to [someone].

"One in a Million" is a little more my traditional style, with a piano arpeggio and a beautiful song. I loved the record from the first second. It has a little bit of a Coldplay vibe that I really love. A lot of people say it feels a little bit like what I did with Kelly Rowland with "When Love Takes Over." It's not the same chords, but it's a feeling, let's say. 

I'm hoping for the best [at the GRAMMYs]. It would be amazing if we could win, for me but also for her. I really want her to win, because I think she's so talented. She deserves the win. 

How Rising Dance Star Dom Dolla Remixed The Gorillaz & Brought Nelly Furtado Back To The Dance Floor

A Timeline Of Drake's GRAMMY Moments, From His First Win To Performances & Beefs
Drake in 2011, 2009, 2019, 2010 and 2011

Photos: Kevin Mazur/Wire; Steve Granitz/WireImage; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

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A Timeline Of Drake's GRAMMY Moments, From His First Win To Performances & Beefs

Drake's relationship with the GRAMMYs has been all over the map. The five-time GRAMMY winner's comments about the Awards have sparked debate, as has his relationship to submitting his work for consideration.

GRAMMYs/Jan 16, 2024 - 03:02 pm

When Drake attended his first GRAMMY Awards in 2010, he was 23 and hadn’t yet released a debut album. By the time he received his nominations for the 2024 GRAMMYs — Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance and Best Melodic Rap Performance for his collaborations with 21 Savage —  he was Spotify’s most-streamed artist of all time, and the holder of more Billboard chart records than we can possibly list in this intro. 

In between, his relationship with the Academy’s yearly showcase has been all over the map. He’s lost (mostly), won (five times), and performed alongside some of pop culture’s biggest names. But more to the point, starting in 2017 his public comments about — and during — the GRAMMYs have sparked debate. He’s gone back and forth about submitting his music for consideration, and even went as far as to demand that nominations be retracted (more on that later).

Drake is nominated for Best Rap Album among other awards at the 2024 GRAMMYs. Here is a year-by-year account of the relationship between one of music’s biggest stars and Music’s Biggest Night. 

2010 — 52nd GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best Rap Song ("Best I Ever Had"), Best Rap Solo Performance ("Best I Ever Had")

Performances: "Drop the World"/"Forever" with Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Travis Barker

This was Drizzy’s first GRAMMYs, and he was still green enough that he got "reassurance" from Eminem in advance of their performance. 

"He was like, 'Man, anytime you need to look over at me, don't get nervous. Just look over at me, man, and I'll give it back to you. Everything will be all right. Don't be nervous.' For him to say that to me — I feel like that was an important moment," Drake told MTV News at the time.

His first two nominations, both for "Best I Ever Had," came before he had even put out his debut album. And as you can see in an interview at the event, the awards circuit was new enough that his mother’s reaction to finding out that Drake was nominated was to text him a bunch of swear words. 

"I think she was excited," the rapper joked to a CNN reporter.

2011 — 53rd GRAMMY Awards

Drake performs with Rihanna

Nominations: Best New Artist, Best Rap Album (Thank Me Later), Best Rap Solo Performance ("Over"), Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group ("Fancy" with Swizz Beatz and T.I.)

Performances: "What’s My Name" (with Rihanna)

This is the year that seems to sting Drake the most. Best New Artist was a tough battle, with Drizzy, Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons, and Florence + the Machine in the mix. All of them lost to Esperanza Spalding, in a major upset

Drake’s bitterness about the moment lingers to this day. On his most recent album For All the Dogs, he has a surprisingly angry lyric about it: "Four GRAMMYs to my name, a hundred nominations/ Esperanza Spalding was gettin' all the praises/ I'm tryna keep it humble, I'm tryna keep it gracious/ Who give a f— Michelle Obama put you on her playlist?/ Then we never hear from you again like you was taken."

2012 — 54th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Rihanna’s Loud, as featured artist), Best Rap Performance ("Moment 4 Life" with Nicki Minaj), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("I’m On One" with DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne; "What’s My Name" with Rihanna)

This was Drake’s first year as a presenter, so he appears to be moving up in the award show hierarchy. But that doesn’t help him with hardware — he still goes home empty-handed. 

This is also the time that he has multiple nominations in the same category (in this case, two in Best Rap/Sung Collaboration), which is also a trend that would repeat throughout the years. 

2013 — 55th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Rap Album (Take Care)

Nominations: Best Rap Performance ("HYFR [Hell Ya F—king Right]" with Lil Wayne), Best Rap Song ("The Motto" with Lil Wayne)

He finally wins! Drake gets his first victory (for Best Rap Album). Also, he is the only Canadian to win that year (sorry, Loreena McKennitt!) However, the big moment wasn't telecast and Drizzy hadn’t yet arrived at the ceremony. In a charming interview from later in the night, Drake recalled jumping out of his car in the middle of traffic to celebrate. There’s also a video of him receiving his GRAMMY in the mail after the fact, which is notable for him immediately taking a celebratory drink from the trophy.

2014 — 56th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, as featured artist), Best Rap Album (Nothing Was the Same), Best Rap Performance ("Started From the Bottom"), Best Rap Song ("Started From the Bottom"; "F—in’ Problems" with ASAP Rocky, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar)

Drake gets five nominations — and again two in one category — with no wins. It’s hard to pinpoint where the tide might have turned regarding the rapper’s feelings about the institution, but this ceremony may well have been it. 

2015 — 57th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Beyoncé's Beyoncé, as featured artist), Best Rap Performance ("0 to 100 / The Catch Up"), Best Rap Song ("0 to 100 / The Catch Up"), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Tuesday" with ILoveMakonnen)

Once again Drake gets an Album Of The Year nomination…for someone else’s album. It’s now the third time this has happened, following Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar. Still, four nominations during a year with no new album is impressive, and shows just how much of a fixture The Boy has become in the pop firmament at this point. 

2016 — 58th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best Rap Album (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Only" with Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown), Best Rap Performance ("Back to Back"; "Truffle Butter" with Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne), Best Rap Song ("Energy")

From four nominations in 2015 to five this year, tying his personal best from 2014. They are all for rap-related awards, perhaps because Drake didn’t release a "proper" album that might have ended up in one of the big categories — If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late had a convoluted rollout. 

2017 — 59th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Rap/Sung Performance ("Hotline Bling"), Best Rap Song ("Hotline Bling")

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Views), Best Rap Album (Views), Record Of The Year ("Work" with Rihanna), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Work" with Rihanna), Best R&B Song ("Come and See Me" with PartyNextDoor), Best Rap Performance ("Pop Style" with The Throne)

The results of this year marked the beginning of Drake’s public issues with the GRAMMYs. Drake didn't attend the ceremony and, in an interview just after the ceremony, he pushed back against his own victory, upset that "Hotline Bling," a song with no rapping, won two rap awards.

"Last night at that awards show, I’m a Black artist," he said. "I’m apparently a rapper, even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song. The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black." 

He was also upset that his hit "One Dance" wasn’t nominated in any general categories. 

"There’s pop obligations that [the Recording Academy] have," he said. "And I fluked out and got one of the biggest songs of the year, that is a pop song, and I’m proud of that. I love the rap world and I love the rap community, but I write pop songs for a reason. I want to be like Michael Jackson.

"I won two awards last night, but I don’t even want them for some reason," he continued. "It just feels weird. It feels like you’re purposely trying to alienate me or pacify me by handing me something, putting me in that [rap] category because it’s the only place you can figure out where to put me." 

Perhaps because of these issues — it was never confirmed — he never submitted his 2018 project More Life for GRAMMY consideration. Regardless, he ended up with no nominations the following year.

2019 — 61st GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Rap Song ("God’s Plan")

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Scorpion), Best Rap Performance ("Nice for What"; "Sicko Mode" with Travis Scott, Swae Lee, and Big Hawk), Best Rap Song ("Sicko Mode" with Travis Scott, Swae Lee, and Big Hawk), Record Of The Year ("God’s Plan"), Song Of The Year ("God’s Plan")

This was a year that heightened the Drake/Recording Academy tension even further. First, he turned down a chance to perform during the ceremony. And then, during his acceptance speech for Best Rap Song, Drizzy let awards shows have it. 

"We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport," he began. "Look, the point is, you already won if you have people singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown. You’re already winning, you don’t need this right here."

The broadcast went to commercial while he was still talking, something that fans thought was an intentional slight. The Academy said otherwise.

"During Drake’s speech there was a natural pause during his speech and at that moment the producers did assume that he was done and then cut to commercial," the Academy said in an official statement. "However the producers did speak with Drake following his speech and did offer him to come back on stage to finish whatever his thoughts were, but Drake said he was happy with what he said and didn’t have anything to add to it."

2020 — 62nd GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best R&B Song ("No Guidance" with Chris Brown), Best Rap Song ("Gold Roses" with Rick Ross)

Drake didn’t publicly react to his two losses this year, but he did speak out on a friend’s behalf. The superstar was upset that The Weeknd didn’t receive any nominations, and said so in an Instagram story. He went far enough as to say that awards shows like the GRAMMYs "may no longer matter" to up-and-coming artists.

"I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after," Drake wrote. "It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can’t change their ways.

"The other day I said @theweeknd was a lock for either album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way," he continued. "This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come."

He went on to list artists he believed should be been nominated: Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, Party Next Door, Popcaan, and "too many missing names to even name." 

2021 — 63rd GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best Rap Song ("Laugh Now Cry Later" with Lil Durk), Best Melodic Rap Performance ("Laugh Now Cry Later" with Lil Durk), Best Music Video ("Life Is Good" with Future)

Drake again misses out on everything he’s nominated for, which might have something to do with what happened the following year.

2022 — 64th GRAMMY Awards  

Nominations: Best Rap Album (Certified Lover Boy), Best Rap Performance ("Way 2 Sexy" with Future and Young Thug) - Both withdrawn

Things came to a boiling point in 2022. Drake was nominated for two awards, but his management asked the Academy to remove the nominations, which they did. 

2023 — 65th GRAMMY Awards

Wins: Best Melodic Rap Performance ("Wait For U" with Future and Tems)

Nominations: Album Of The Year (Beyoncé’s Renaissance, as songwriter), Best Rap Song ("Wait For U" with Future and Tems, "Churchill Downs" with Jack Harlow)

Drake didn’t submit any material for GRAMMY consideration this time around, but it didn’t stop him from receiving four nominations, and winning once. 

There was one other unexpected Drake-related Grammy moment this year as well. Several days before the ceremony, he made a speech at the Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors event praising one of the evening’s honorees, Lil Wayne. Even when paying tribute to his mentor, Drake seemed to be referencing his ongoing issues with the Academy. His knowing winks to the camera whenever he said the phrase “Black Music Collective” appeared to be a nod to his ongoing complaints that contemporary Black artists were being ignored by the Grammys.  

2024 — 66th GRAMMY Awards

Nominations: Best Rap Album (Her Loss with 21 Savage), Best Rap Song ("Rich Flex" with 21 Savage"), Best Rap Performance ("Rich Flex" with 21 Savage), Best Melodic Rap Performance ("Spin Bout U" with 21 Savage)

In a sign that a change might be underway in the often-stormy relationship between Drake and the GRAMMYs, the rapper actually submitted material for nomination for the 2024 GRAMMYs. His collaboration with 21 Savage, Her Loss, was put up for Album of the Year (which it didn’t get a nom for) and Best Rap Album (which it did). The songs "Rich Flex" and "Spin Bout U" were also offered up in multiple categories, and each ended up with nominations. 

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