Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
2021 In Review: 8 Trends That Defined R&B
From Trap&B to a 90's revival, revisit some of the biggest trends that defined R&B this year
Anyone who's still asking if R&B is "dead" in 2021 just isn't paying attention. Not only did R&B singers enjoy record-breaking success this year, but the genre also became more intertwined with mainstream music than ever before.
In charting accolades, Summer Walker clenched her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with her second album, Still Over It. The 20-song LP also broke the Apple Music record for the most album streams in a single day by a female artist and became the highest-charting album by a woman R&B singer since Beyoncé's 2016 masterpiece, Lemonade. Meanwhile, An Evening with Silk Sonic, the debut album of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars' superduo Silk Sonic, entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 2 and also became .Paak's first No. 1 album on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Sonically, artists like KIRBY advanced the sound of modern soul on her Sis. He Wasn't the One EP, and Ty Dolla $ign and dvsn led the '90s R&B revival through some clever samples. R&B continued to grow and change this year, with innovative newcomers incorporating new sonic influences and R&B legends reminding fans why the genre will always live on.
From Trap&B to the return of girl groups, read on for eight trends that emerged in R&B music this year.
Lil Tjay and 6LACK hit the perfect combination of R&B and trap music with their melodic collaboration, "Calling My Phone." Soulful R&B feels and sparse trap production has been a popular pairing since the 2010's, but the two artists turned the trend into a major win. Along with being certified double platinum, "Calling My Phone" debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 — an all-time high for both Tjay and 6LACK — and took the No. 1 spots on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Hot Rap Songs and Streaming Songs charts.
As "Calling My Phone" suggests, the genre-blurring combo of R&B and trap is here to stay. "Woo Baby," the Chris Brown-featuring single from Pop Smoke's second posthumous album Faith, melded the genres with a sample of Nelly's 2005 song "So Sick," and modernized trap production. Yung Bleu also captured the crossover with his long-awaited debut album, Moon Boy.
Return of the '90s
Many '90s trends made triumphant returns in this year’s fashion and culture, and R&B was no exception. On their collaboration "Memories," Ty Dolla $ign and singer/producer duo dvsn (Daniel Daley and Nineteen85) sampled Silk's "Freak Me," adding their own updated spin to the 1993 bedroom hit. With nostalgic production by 40 and Nineteen85 and steamy lines from Ty and Daley, "Memories" demonstrates how the decade is still a major influence on R&B.
Cardi B and Normani also struck gold with a '90s sampling, using Aaliyah's 1996 classic "One in a Million" on their hit collaboration, "Wild Side." Similarly, a sample of Montell Jordan's 1999 song, "Get It On Tonite" crept its way onto Mahalia's dreamy offering, "Whenever You’re Ready."
KIRBY breathed new life into classic soul with her 10-song EP, Sis. He Wasn't the One. Incorporating impressive falsetto, the Memphis-born singer and songwriter modernized the nostalgic sound with cuts like "Lately" (featuring BJ The Chicago Kid) and "Boyz II Men," in which she shouts out her neo-soul predecessor Erykah Badu (“Badu tried to warn mе 'bout these Tyrones,” she sings before the final chorus).
Sis. He Wasn't the One was one of several contemporary soul records released this year — including Cleo Sol’s Mother, Phabo’s Soulquarius and Leon Bridges’ Gold-Diggers Sound — giving the stylish sound room to grow in 2022.
Girl groups used to be a staple in R&B, but VanJess and The Shindellas might just be bringing them back. While Chloe x Halle focused more on their solo careers this year, VanJess held it down for R&B sister duos, releasing their sophomore album, Homegrown. The Nigerian-American pair carved out their own lane in contemporary R&B, mixing nostalgic, '90s-leaning harmonies with an expansive production palette, which included everything from hip-hop to electronic beats. Meanwhile, Nashville-bred trio The Shindellas harkened back to classic R&B, blues and pop sounds on their debut album, Hits That Stick Like Grits.
While throwing a rap verse into a smooth R&B track can be polarizing for some, Summer Walker and City Girls’ J.T. proved that the formula can offer the best of both worlds. The pair’s unexpected mashup, "Ex For A Reason," puts Walker’s glossy voice over a punchy uptempo beat, with the song’s don’t-take-my-man narrative accented by J.T.’s fiery bars. Singer Joyce Wrice also mastered the rap/R&B crossover on her collab with veteran rapper Freddie Gibbs, "On One," the breakout track from her debut album, Overgrown.
Toxic Love Songs
On their first-ever collaboration, Bryant Faiyaz and Drake continued the R&B trend of feigned indifference in love songs — a stark contrast to the gushing, romantic gestures that characterized the genre's early sound. On their Neptunes-produced track, the two crooners invite their quasi-partners to "waste their time" with them, but make sure not to come on too strong.
SZA also sang about toxic love on her re-released SoundCloud hit, "I Hate U," which broke Apple Music’s record for most-streamed R&B song by a female artist in its first week. Opting to emphasize her feelings rather than cloak them, the songstress used blunt, raw lyrics to further modernize the trend.
The resurgence of funk and its inclusion in R&B records continued to grow as a trend this year, especially with the release of An Evening with Silk Sonic, the debut project from Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s brilliant brainchild Silk Sonic. With production by GRAMMY-winning producer D'Mile and narration from funk legend Bootsy Collins, the nine-track LP boasted vintage soul and funk melodies that seem to be showing up more and more in retro-yet-contemporary R&B releases. Indiana five-piece Durand Jones & The Indications were also fueled by 70's funk this year, with their album Private Space calling back to the group’s classic influences, from the Isley Brothers to the Temptations.
R&B Legends Return
Anthony Hamilton released his first album since 2016 this year, making a welcomed return for old-school R&B fans. His eighth studio album, Love Is The New Black, puts his soothing vocals on full display, even tying in the rap collaborations trend with guest appearances from Rick Ross and Lil Jon. While R&B was mostly dominated by newcomers in 2021, there was still a newfound sense of appreciation for genre greats.
Besides comeback releases, Swizz Beats and Timbaland’s webcast series Verzuz highlighted R&B legends. The viral showdown series saw the Isley Brothers battle Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan take on Stephanie Mills, and D’Angelo recruit H.E.R., Method Man and Redman — all introducing R&B staples to younger audiences and driving the nostalgia that powered several R&B hits this year.
Photo: Amy Lee
New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Andre 3000, Drake, Ozuna & More
From long-awaited debut albums to surprising singles, listen to these six new releases from Nov. 17.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, this New Music Friday offers us a feast of new sounds from some of the music industry’s biggest artists.
Country star Maren Morris teamed up with Teddy Swims for a passionate duet version of his song "Some Things I'll Never Know," while Steve Aoki & ERNEST paired up for an energetic dance/country crossver, "Us," from Aoki’s HiROQUEST 2: Double Helix.
American band Bleachers unleash their wild side with "Alma Matter," from their upcoming self-titled album dropping March 8, 2024. Meanwhile, alternative rock band Bad Suns released their catchy, six-track EP Infinite Joy. Across the pond, long-time British rockers Madness released their 13th album, Theatre Of the Absurd Presents C’Est La Vie.
With sultry sounds from R&B songstress Ari Lennox to mellow, indie rhythms from Dermot Kennedy to upbeat, radiant vibes from the duo Surfaces, this Friday brings a kaleidoscope of sounds from across every genre.
Along with the slew of releases mentioned above, press play on releases from the likes of André 3000, Drake, Ozuna, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, Danny Brown, and Bibi and Becky G — and be sure to add some new sounds to your rotation.
André 3000 - New Blue Sun
If you’ve seen Andre 3000’s impromptu flute performances in the past few years, then the GRAMMY winner's new sound won’t come as a shock. On his eight-track debut solo album New Blue Sun, the Outkast member experiments with wind instruments and percussion, creating serene and melodic compositions.
Across eight elaborately titled tracks — "I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A "Rap" Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time" and "That Night In Hawaii When I Turned Into A Panther And Started Making These Low Registered Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control… Shyt Was Wild," — Andre details his artistic journey and the possibility of returning to rap music. Because, as Andre has told numerous outlets, New Blue Sun is not a rap album.
In the future, fans might see 3000 return to the rap universe but in the meantime, let’s enjoy the ambience of the blue sun.
Drake - For All The Dogs Scary Hours Edition
It’s not Scorpio season without a release from the scorpion king himself, Drake. In the latest installment of his Scary Hours series, Drake brought in a heavy-hitter lineup of producers including Lil Yatchy and Alchemist.
With songs surrounding themes of betrayal and broken trust (an the less-than-subtle chant "F— My Ex" more than 10 times in one song), For All The Dogs Scary Hours Edition shows how deep the Certified Lover Boy is in his feelings.
Drake brings out his Swiftie side in the track, "Red Button," shouting out Taylor Swift with lyrics "Taylor Swift the only n—- that I ever rated/ Only one could make me drop the album just a little later/ Rest of y’all, I treat you like you never made it." Seems that the big-ups and grudges heard on October's For All The Dogs translate to Scary Hours, too.
Ozuna - Cosmo
After receiving a nod for Best Reggaeton Performance and performing with David Guetta at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, Puerto Rican Singer Ozuna dropped his sixth album, Cosmo. Filled with soon-to-be dance floor staples, Cosmo highlights Ozuna's versatility.
Songs like "El Pin" and "La Chulita" are full of infectious dance and Afrobeats influences, yet stay true to his reggaeton roots. The 15-track record also includes collaborations with Jhayco, Chenco Corleone, Anuel and David Guetta.
"When you think of a colorful image, you think of youth. When people listen to this album, I want them to take it seriously," Ozuna said in an interview with the Fader. "People want to hear what’s real, what’s clear-cut, in black and white.”
The goal, he continued, is to allow "people to know who the real Ozuna is."
2 Chainz, Lil Wayne - Welcome 2 Collegrove
Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz have joined forces once again to release their second joint album, Welcome 2 Collegrove. The album’s title is a melding of 2 Chainz's hometown of College Park, Georgia, with Lil Wayne’s Hollygrove, Louisiana.
Welcome 2 Collegrove includes features from a cross-section of hip-hop and R&B greats, including Usher, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, Benny The Butcher and Fabolous. Tracks like "Presha" and "Long Story Short" bring back the duo’s classic rap sound from their 2016 project COLLEGROVE, and show their ability to create hip-hop anthems. The special guest artists add even more depth to their songs.
Danny Brown - Quaranta
After a four year break, Detroit rapper Danny Brown is back with his seventh album, Quaranta. A departure from his earlier, more club-centric music, the 11-track album offers a new perspective in Brown’s life.
Quaranta is a turning point in Brown's musical journey, where he reflects on themes of regret, self-destructive behavior, and growth. While songs like "Ain’t My Concern" and "Celibate" still include his signature flair of fast, high-pitched verses, this album takes on a more mature and introspective route.
Bibi feat. Becky G - "Amigos"
On "Amigos," South Korean singer Bibi teamed up with Latin star Becky G for a multicultural but ever-relatable track that focuses on being hung up on past lovers despite having someone new in their life. "I know we had a good time and that you always want more / But if my boyfriend calls, we’re just friends, nothing more," they sing in Spanish.
"Amigos" is rife with hip-hop influences — a genre Bibi loves.
"Expressing oneself through lyrics is so real and genuine," BIBI told AllKPop. "As I’m someone who wasn’t necessarily gifted with natural musical talent — I didn’t even know the difference between boom bap or trap beats until way later. I think the other factors of music organically followed as I grew as an artist."
Here Are The Nominees For Best R&B Album At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The five nominees for Best R&B Album highlight how women are driving the category. With entries from Coco Jones, Victoria Monét, Summer Walker, Emily King and Babyface — whose album features all female singers — R&B is putting ladies first.
The roster of the Best R&B Album nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs makes it abundantly clear that women are driving the category for the 66th GRAMMY Awards.
Coco Jones and Victoria Monét took back control over their careers and scored their biggest hits yet, while Summer Walker and Emily King turned their pain into art that resonates. Babyface — who helped define the '90s as one of the most in-demand songwriters — released his first full-length record in seven years, Girls Night Out.
Since 1995, only 12 female artists have won Best R&B Album with Alicia Keys receiving the honor three times. This year, female artists are taking center stage in the category. From Babyface championing some of today's most promising female R&B vocalists, to Monét and Jones finding their unique voices and King and Walker's beautiful solace in heartbreak, it's anyone's game.
Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024, get to know the five nominees for Best R&B Album.
Babyface - Girls Night Out
R&B legend and 11-time GRAMMY winner Babyface didn't set out to make a sequel to 1996's beloved Waiting to Exhale's soundtrack — which boasts vocal contributions from Whitney Houston, Brandy, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, TLC, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few.
Still, his 2022 album Girls Night Out drew plenty of comparisons to the now-iconic OST due to its all-female lineup. The record features some of the leading ladies from R&B's new class, including Ari Lennox, Muni Long, Kehlani, Queen Naija, and fellow nominee Coco Jones (more on her later). His "Keeps on Fallin'" collab with Ella Mai received a nod for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
As the Girls Night Out title suggests, Babyface takes a backseat and lets the women shine. While each lends their own signature style, the result is a cohesive body of work under Babyface's mentorship.
Despite having 125 Top 10 writer/producer credits to his name, the 64-year-old music veteran admitted to studying the current R&B landscape before joining forces with some of the genre's brightest and best. His homework is perhaps most reflected in "Game Over," "Don't Even Think About It," "G Wagon," and the title track.
"I needed to learn how people spoke and how melodies are different," Babyface told GRAMMY.com in early 2023. "I have a much clearer understanding of today's R&B because there is a difference, and it's not necessarily a difference that's any better or any worse. It's just a difference in terms of time, and that's what made the process enjoyable to me."
Coco Jones - What I Didn't Tell You (Deluxe)
Coco Jones is living proof that staying the course pays off. With co-signs from Janet Jackson and Beyoncé, Jones started recording demos at just 9 years old and released music independently for nearly a decade after parting ways with Disney in 2014.
Fast forward to 2023, a jam-packed year of exciting firsts for the former Disney Channel prodigy. The platinum-selling single "ICU" off Jones' debut EP, What I Didn't Tell You, became her first Billboard Hot 100 chart entry and first No. 1 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart. Plus, the 25-year-old embarked on her first headlining tour, which kicked off on Aug. 5. And now, her first GRAMMY nomination.
Released in the second half of 2022, What I Didn't Tell You sees the Bel-Air star returning to music roots in a big way and leaning into her starpower with "Crazy for Me," "Spend It," "Headline," and the SWV-sampling "Double Back" emerging as standouts in addition to breakout hit "ICU."
In typical R&B fashion, What I Didn't Tell You takes listeners through the mixed bag of emotions brought on by love. But longtime fans may notice something's different this time around. For instance, lyrics like "This here is top shelf, I know you're thirsty / Run up a tab so you can get every drop of me" from "No Chaser" are delivered with a level of confidence that's only attained through real-life experiences.
The deluxe version of What I Didn't Tell You features four extra tracks, including her "Simple" duet with Babyface. With the 2024 GRAMMYs inching closer, Jones is clearly manifesting what could end up being her first-ever win. "That photo of Beyoncé, where she's holding several GRAMMYs — I put my face on there," she recently told the Los Angeles Times. "And then I zoomed in on a GRAMMY, and wrote Coco Jones."
Emily King - Special Occasion
"This year's gonna be about me / Never will I have another reason to doubt me," Emily King declares on "This Year," the opening track off her fifth studio album, Special Occasion.
The song itself sees King picking up the pieces of a broken heart, but on a larger scale, it's a sincere manifestation of good things to come.
All 11 tracks on Special Occasion embody the end of King's nearly 15-year relationship with Jeremy Most, who doubled as her longtime musical collaborator. As King told NPR, the record is more than a breakup album; it's a collection of "songs that project out into the future of who I want to be."
Born to jazz singers in New York City, King's talent caught the attention of Clive Davis at just 18 years old, landing a deal with the legendary executive's J Records. In 2008, her debut album, East Side Story, garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Around the same time, King toured with John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Erykah Badu. However, the then-newcomer grew dissatisfied with the music that was supposed to represent her and J Records dropped her soon after. "I had made compromises creatively," King, now 38, told "CBS Mornings."
So, receiving another GRAMMY nod (her fourth in total) in a similar category for music that she's creating on her terms must feel full-circle and validating as an artist.
While cuts like "Bad Memory" and "Easy" evoke regret and sadness, there's also great moments of joy sprinkled across Special Occasion. "Brand-new kicks and my old Jeep / Windows down, catch the summer breeze / Music loud on the stereo / Cuties passing, wave hello," she croons.
In all the complexities and nuances heard throughout the sonic journey that is Special Occasion lies King's most honest work to date.
Victoria Monét - JAGUAR II
Victoria Monét is finally getting the spotlight she deserves. After years spent penning hit songs for artists like Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, and BLACKPINK, Monét's debut studio album, JAGUAR II, was met with much acclaim when it arrived on Aug. 25.
Earlier in August, the 34-year-old set social media ablaze when she dropped the Y2K nostalgia-laced visuals for "On My Mama," the third single off JAGUAR II and her highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 so far.
Ironically, the feel-good anthem was conceived while Monét experienced postpartum depression a couple months after welcoming her first child in 2021. "It came while I was in a place of disbelief in what I was actually saying. So it's almost like I had to speak it into existence," she told Apple Music 1.
For much of the sonic cohesion heard throughout JAGUAR II, Monét entrusted two-time GRAMMY winner D'Mile, who counts Beyoncé and JAY-Z, along with Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's Silk Sonic as collaborators. In its entirety, Monét’s record makes the perfect soundtrack for family reunions and cookouts. Songs like "Good Bye," "How Does It Make You Feel," and "Hollywood," which features Earth, Wind & Fire and Monét's two-year-old daughter Hazel's first laugh, are such ethereal nods to '70s music that it's easy to mistake the album for a time machine.
Monét's future looks brighter than ever, as evidenced by her sold-out debut headlining tour and celebratory deal with RCA Records.
"I feel really excited to just be able to share these parts of myself with the world, while not trying to put too much pressure on expectations, but of course I do want the accolades," she told GRAMMY.com in 2020. "I have GRAMMY dreams, I have award show performance dreams, I have world tour dreams. But really just being able to make music a career, and doing what I love — it’s a privilege."
Summer Walker - CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP
Summer Walker's rise has been both fascinating and inspiring; she's come a long way since teaching herself to play guitar through YouTube tutorials and running her own cleaning business in her early 20s.
Her debut album, 2019's Over It, narrowly missed the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart but birthed her breakthrough hit, "Playing Games," whereas her 2021 sophomore effort, Still Over It, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It also holds the record for the most streamed R&B album by a female artist since Beyoncé's Lemonade.
Fast forward a couple years later, and Walker is celebrating her first solo GRAMMY nomination thanks to her latest EP, CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE — featuring production from Solange, Steve Lacy, Jay Versace, and John Carroll Kirby.
On the diaristic, neo soul-coded project, Walker is as raw, vulnerable, and introspective as ever. "Tired of seein' all these, all these / Spanish and these white bitches / Livin' they soft life with they feet kicked up," she sings in "Hardlife." Elsewhere, the spoken-word piece "Agayu’s Revelation" sees Walker taking accountability and prioritizing inner work over toxic relationships ("Stop workin' with people who are made of glass if you are made of steel").
One of the nine-track EP's highlights belongs to opener "To Summer, From Cole (Audio Hug)." On the track, which brought Walker to tears, J. Cole pens a heartfelt verse uplifting and affirming the mother of three. "I find it amazing the way that you juggle your kids, the biz, the fame / The bitches that's hatin', they sit around / Waitin' for you to fall off, like the album I'm makin,'" J. Cole raps over a minimalistic beat. "Between the hectic sounds of your precious baby crying / Do you clear your mind? Must be a lot goin' on."
"To Summer, From Cole" particularly stands out considering the singer's openness surrounding her social anxiety disorder and failed relationships, along with the fact that more Black women are breaking up with the strong Black woman archetype and embracing their "soft era" instead. As Walker noted to Apple Music, "I'm really loving life right now, enjoying this new outlook on life, loving the new me, loving my kids, and not letting life pass me by anymore." The "soft life" suits her well.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
Here Are The Nominees For Best Rap Song At The 2024 GRAMMYs
Get a deeper look into the five tracks from Doja Cat, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, Lil Uzi Vert, Drake and 21 Savage, and Killer Mike, André 3000, Future and Eryn Allen Kane that earned the Best Rap Song nod at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Rap music has changed a lot since the Best Rap Song category was introduced at the 2004 GRAMMYs. Most of the first year's nominees, even if they're still making music, now spend the majority of their time on things like making hit TV shows or running iconic fashion brands.
But the category, then and now, has its finger on the pulse; it gives us a cross-section of what makes hip-hop so important to so many people. The Best Rap Song nominees for the 2024 GRAMMYs are no different. The Category includes a pop princess taking a big left turn; two New Yorkers paying tribute to the greatest of all dolls; a Philly rapper taking us to the club; a duo who can't stop flexing on us; and a Dungeon Family reunion that spans generations.
Below, take a deep dive into the five tracks up for Best Rap Song at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Attention" — Doja Cat
Rogét Chahayed, Amala Zandile Dlamini & Ari Starace, songwriters (Doja Cat)
"Attention" marked a new era for Doja Cat — one where she moved away from the pop sounds that made her famous, and into something harder and more aggressive.
In the weeks leading up to the track's release, Doja called her earlier rapping attempts "mid and corny" and referred to the music that broke her into the big time as "mediocre pop." So it only made sense that her big statement single would be exactly that — a statement.
The beat by Rogét Chahayed and Y2K has a drum loop that wouldn't sound out of place on Ultimate Breaks and Beats, and Doja lets the world see her inner hip-hop fan with some serious rapping — no mid or corny verses here. This is the Doja who can quote underground faves like Homeboy Sandman and Little Brother at the drop of a hat.
"Attention" finds Doja addressing her often-contentious relationship with fans and social media, as well as the controversies she went through leading up to the song's release. But the whole thing is playful and ambiguous. Does she want the world's attention, now that she has it? What is she willing to do to keep it? In this song — and even more so in its video — Doja plays with these questions like a truly great superstar.
"Barbie World" [From Barbie The Album] — Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua
Isis Naija Gaston, Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr. & Onika Maraj, songwriters (Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice Featuring Aqua)
Aqua's "Barbie Girl" was too sexy for Mattel when it was released in 1997 — the company sued the band, claiming that people would associate lyrics like "Kiss me here, touch me there" with their wholesome children's toy. So it's both ironic and, given the post-irony tone of the movie itself, somehow fitting that "Barbie Girl" is sampled in a major song from the new Barbie movie.
And who better to bring Barbie to life in rap form than the head of the Barbz? Soundtrack producer Mark Ronson said that there was no way to have a Barbie soundtrack without Nicki Minaj, and he was absolutely right. Nicki, with her career-long association with Mattel's most famous toy, was the perfect choice. Joining her on the track is the hottest rapper of the moment, Ice Spice. Ice's go-to producer RiotUSA did the music for the song, which accounts for both its aggressive drums and its sample drill-style use of the once-verboten Aqua hit.
Nicki and Ice have great chemistry in the song. Nicki doesn't treat the song like a movie soundtrack throwaway — her rhyming is clear, sharp, layered, and funny. And she gets extra points for referring to a bob-style wig as her "Bob Dylan."
"Just Wanna Rock" — Lil Uzi Vert
Mohamad Camara, Javier Mercado & Symere Woods, songwriters
Lil Uzi Vert took "Just Wanna Rock" from TikTok all the way to the GRAMMYs.
The track began as a snippet on the social media app, where it went viral, garnering hundreds of millions of views; even celebrities like Kevin Hart got into the act. When the actual song came out, at just about two minutes long, it wasn't much longer than a TikTok video. But it didn't need to be — the full track kept all the joy and danceability of the memeable excerpt.
"Just Wanna Rock" features Uzi acting as an MC, but not in a traditional going-for-the-cleverest-rhyme way. Instead, his voice is used more for its rhythmic qualities, darting in and out of the four-on-the-floor pounding of the kick drum with short, punchy phrases. "I just wanna rock, body-ody-ya" may not look like much on the page, but it's placed perfectly, and it's the kernel that blossoms into the rest of Uzi's performance.
He takes the rhythm of that initial phrase and plays with it throughout in increasingly intricate ways, while never losing sight of the source material. The song is heavily influenced by the Jersey club sound that has been all over hip-hop this year. As the most popular rap/Jersey club crossover of 2023, it makes perfect sense that "Just Wanna Rock" is in the running for Best Rap Song — even if it is unfinished.
"Rich Flex" — Drake & 21 Savage
Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, Charles Bernstein, Isaac "Zac" De Boni, Brytavious Chambers, Aldrin Davis, Aubrey Graham, J. Gwin, Clifford Harris, Gladys Hayes, Anderson Hernandez, Michael "Finatik" Mule, Megan Pete, B.D. Session Jr & Anthony White, songwriters
Simon and Garfunkel. Sam and Dave. Hall and Oates. To that list of great duos, it might be time to add Drake and 21 Savage. Seven years after their first collaboration, Toronto and Atlanta's finest finally got together for a full-length project in 2023, and Her Loss standout (and opener) "Rich Flex" is now up for an award on Music's Biggest Night.
"Rich Flex," like much latter-day Drake, has multiple beats. But in this case, that adds to the song's playful mood. Drizzy and 21 sound like they're actually having fun — Drake even playfully lapses into a sing-songy, nursery rhyme-esque melody on occasion. Savage, for his part, seems to be having a blast interpolating Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" — a move which earned the Houston rapper a writing credit on the track.
Drake, as in a lot of his recent work, seems consumed with the costs of fame: haters everywhere you look, hangers-on who make your house feel like a hotel; women who won't leave you alone; unwanted attention from law enforcement. But he almost never sounds this engaged, even joyful, when addressing these topics. Maybe what he needed all along was a duet partner.
"Scientists & Engineers" — Killer Mike Featuring André 3000, Future And Eryn Allen Kane
Paul Beauregard, Andre Benjamin, James Blake, Tim Moore, Michael Render & Dion Wilson, songwriters
It was Andre 3000's first appearance on a song in two years that got all the attention at first. But there's a lot more to "Scientists & Engineers" than the fact that the reclusive half of OutKast shows up.
For one thing, it's what he shows up with. Andre's verse is smart, well-observed, poetic, and somehow manages to change focus completely in the middle and yet still hold together as an artistic statement.
But he's far from the only talent on the song. The track is a veritable all-star fest — not for nothing did Killer Mike call it a "hip-hop fantasy." On the music side, there are contributions from legendary producers No ID and Three 6 Mafia's DJ Paul, hip-hop's favorite singer/songwriter James Blake, and TWhy. Singer Eryn Allen Kane adds her gorgeous vocals. And Future, who lest we forget, began his career as a "second generation" member of the Dungeon Family collective that included OutKast and Mike, adds his patented boastful vulnerability.
Then there's Mike himself. He needed to bring a stellar performance in order not to be buried by all his very special guests, and he more than pulls it off. "I am Thelonius Monk in a donk," he rhymes, and the combination of the innovative jazz legend and the classic car with big rims perfectly describes not only him, but the entire mood he sets with this song.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy's Voting Membership.
2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See Miley Cyrus, Ice Spice, Noah Kahan, Kelsea Ballerini, & More Artists' Reactions
The 2024 GRAMMY nominations have been announced! Here’s how nominated artists from boygenius to Jelly Roll reacted on social media.
This afternoon, the highly anticipated 2024 GRAMMY nominations were announced, bringing loads of excitement to music enthusiasts.
After the announcements were made, nominated artists shared their reaction on social media. A series of appreciation posts flooded the timeline from the likes of first-time nominee Tyla, trend-charting rapper Coi Leray, country star Kelsea Ballerini, and more.
Dive into the social media celebration posts, while catching up on the full nominees list. Make sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMY awards on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will air live (8:00-11:30 PM, LIVE ET/5:00-8:30 PM, LIVE PT) on the CBS Television Network and will stream on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).
"On My Mama" singer/songwriter Victoria Monét shared pre-nomination nerves last night, comparing the feeling to the anticipation of draft day. Little did she know, she'd be one of the most nominated artists of the year. She received six nominations in total: Record Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song.
Whew I am so nervous 😭😭😭 it feels like draft day— Victoria Monét (@VictoriaMonet) November 10, 2023
After Coil Leray found out she was nominated for Best Rap Performance for "Players" and Best Pop Dance Recording for her feature with David Guetta (“Baby Don't Hurt Me"), the rapper took to X, formerly known as Twitter: "Wow I'm really Grammy Nominated ? That's crazy. Let me let this sink in real quick and I'll brb."
Wow I’m really Grammy Nominated ? That’s crazy. Let me let this sink in real quick and I’ll brb. 😱— Coi (@coi_leray) November 10, 2023
Miley Cyrus specifically highlighted the women in the music industry, while celebrating her fans and team:
Congratulations to all of this years Grammy nominees. Watching women rule the music industry makes me proud. It’s fun to be nominated & exciting to win but having my music LOVED around the world is the real trophy.— Miley Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) November 10, 2023
To my Smilers - I celebrate YOU today. Your joy is my bliss.… pic.twitter.com/SSLjVAsOUY
Afrobeats star Davido's latest album Timeless was nominated for Best Global Album, while also receiving nominations for Best African Music Performance and Best Global Music Performance.
3 nominations at the Grammys!! Delay is not Denial!! 🏆🌎— Davido (@davido) November 10, 2023
Americana musician Jason Isbell thanked The Recording Academy for the Best Americana Performance, Best American Roots Song, and Best Americana Album nominations.
Dang alright thank you @RecordingAcad 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) November 10, 2023
Rising artist Tyla, whose song "Water" was nominated for Best African Music Performance, posted a series of tweets capturing her immense shock:
NO WAYSSSSSS— Tyla (@Tyllaaaaaaa) November 10, 2023
Atlanta based R&B singer-songwriter, Summer Walker, shouted out all the "lover girls/boys" after CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP was nominated for Best R&B Album.
Wow a Grammy nomination?? thank you to all my lover girls/boys— SUMMER WALKER (@IAMSUMMERWALKER) November 10, 2023
Country star Kelsea Ballerini shared a live-reaction video to her Best Country Album nomination.
Boygenius was nominated for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alt Music Performance, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. The trio posted a photo of them hugging while staring at the TV displaying their nominations.
And despite writing GRAMMY-winning and GRAMMY-nominated hits for the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Julia Michaels (respectively), songwriters Shane McAnally and Justin Tranter were both shocked their names were included in the Songwriter Of The Year category — proving that a GRAMMY nomination is always magical, no matter how many times it happens.