Six songs are nominated for Best Rap Song at the Grammys, with 10 different artists represented, and one of these is not like the others. Among the new and established hip-hop artists in contention is 18-time Grammy champ Paul McCartney, best known as a member of the Beatles. He’s a past winner in pop and rock categories, but never rap.
McCartney is nominated with Kanye West, Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom for their collaboration “All Day,” and if anyone can help McCartney to an unlikely victory in the rap field, it’s West, who won this category twice with Jay-Z (“Otis” in 2011, “N****s in Paris” in 2012). Before 2011 rap performances were split between solo and duo/group recordings, and West won twice in each of those categories.
But it may be tough for them to beat Kendrick Lamar, who is nominated for the third year in a row and is the defending champ, having won last year for “I.” Lamar is by far the most nominated artist in any genre this year with 11 total bids. He contends in this race for “Alright,” which is also up for Song of the Year, indicating strong support from the recording academy.
Drake has not one but two chances to upset Lamar, both for his own song “Back to Back” and his collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, “Truffle Butter.” Drake did win a Grammy for Best Rap Album once (“Take Care,” 2012), but he’s had no luck in performance categories. He has been nominated seven years in a row – Rap Performance for the last five years, and Rap Solo Performance for the two years before that, as well as one Rap Duo/Group bid in 2010 – but he hasn’t won any of them.
Lil Wayne has yet to win the combined Rap Performance category despite two previous nominations, but he did take Rap Solo and Rap Duo/Group once each. Meanwhile, Minaj has never won a Grammy in any category.
Newcomer Fetty Wap contends for “Trap Queen,” and though this is his first nomination here, “Trap Queen” is the biggest hit in this category, peaking at number-two on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and selling millions of copies. Will his breakthrough commercial success be enough to help him overcome his more established rivals?
Rounding out the category is J. Cole (“Apparently“), who isn’t as new as Fetty Wap (he earned a Best New Artist bid back in 2011) but is nevertheless nominated here for the first time. He has three total nominations this year, including Best Rap Album for “2014 Forest Hills Drive.”
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Kendrick Lamar photo credit: Matt Baron/BEI/REX
Fetty Wap photo credit: Picture Perfect/REX
Nicki Minaj photo credit: Matt Baron.REX
Paul McCartney photo credit: David Fisher/REX