Grammys 2021: Rap field could include hits by DaBaby and Roddy Ricch, posthumous albums by Juice WRLD and Pop Smoke

With the increased domination of hip-hop music on the charts every year, the rap field is an especially interesting one to watch out for at the Grammys. Previous rap albums that have won went on to become classics, like Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” and Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III.” Let’s take a look at this year’s top contenders.

Best Rap Performance

The front-runner for this award is likely “Savage (Remix)” by Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé. This smash hit is not only one of the best performances of the year, but rap voters will definitely want to celebrating breakout star Megan, while also honoring a legend like Beyoncé with her first win in this category.

That said, “Savage” isn’t a complete lock. Future and Drake’s “Life Is Good” is bound to find a lot of voters who were fans of the song given how big a hit it was (peaking at number-two on the Billboard Hot 100 and spending two months there). This could also be Future and Drake’s first of many collabs to get a nomination, which could lead voters to give this power duo a win.

A potential dark horse may be Lil Baby with his socially conscious hit “The Bigger Picture.” The song is a major contender for Song of the Year and Best Rap Song, and Lil Baby is having a banner year with a bestselling double-platinum album (“My Turn”).

Also in the convo is Jack Harlow with his smash hit “Whats Poppin.” Luckily for Harlow (or perhaps strategically), he submitted the original version instead of the remix, which is likely to do better given that one of the remix’s featured artists (Tory Lanez) was charged with shooting Megan Thee Stallion in an incident that was widely publicized. That said, the original version also lacks the presence of DaBaby and Lil Wayne, who have both been nominated by the Grammys before (Lil Wayne has won five) and could have boosted it to a victory.

Other notable contenders include Run the Jewels for their song “Ooh La La,” a single off their highly acclaimed “RTJ4.” Don’t sleep on these guys; they’ve been underappreciated at the Grammys (only one prior nom for them as a duo), so voters might feel like they need to do some course-correction, especially given the political urgency of their work. And the late Pop Smoke could follow Nipsey Hussle’s posthumous win in this category and score a Grammy here for his hit “Dior.”

Other songs vying for a nom include “BOP” by DaBaby, “The Blinding” by Jay Electronica and Jay-Z and “Darkness” by Eminem.

Best Melodic Rap Performance

The race for Melodic Rap Performance is one of the tightest this year. Roddy Ricch is in contention twice, for his smash hits “The Box” and “Rockstar,” the latter with DaBaby. According to Grammy rules, both can be nominated, which could result in a split when voting (for nominations and for winners).

Also in the race is DaBaby, Pop Smoke, and Lil Baby’s smash “For the Night.” The song is a big hit, and it’d be a way to recognize three of this year’s biggest stars.

Travis Scott has two number-one hits eligible in this category: “The Scotts” with previous nominee Kid Cudi, and “Highest In the Room.” If only one gets in, “The Scotts” might feel more current to voters (“Highest” was released more than a year ago), and it would be a way to give Kid Cudi another nom after a couple of years of absence from the Grammys.

Drake may also be a potential spoiler here with the number-two hit “Laugh Now Cry Later,” which is still in the Hot 100’s top-five, and Drake is a past winner in this category, albeit controversially, for “Hotline Bling.” Finally, keep your eyes on Doja Cat’s “Juicy,” Lil Uzi Vert’s “That Way” and Eminem and Juice WRLD‘s Godzilla.”

Best Rap Album

Talking about close races, the Rap Album category is also filled with a lot of possibilities. Safe bets for a nomination are Ricch’s “Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial,” Run the Jewels’s “RTJ4” and Lil Baby’s “My Turn.” I think these three will likely go head-to-head-to-head for a win here.

Also watch out for Pop Smoke’s “Shoot For the Stars Aim For the Moon.” The album has had amazing longevity and success, having multiple weeks at number-one on the Billboard 200 over a span of 15 weeks and notching multiple top-20 hits on the Hot 100. As in the aforementioned categories, voters might want to give Pop Smoke a win here as a way to honor after him shocking murder this past February. A similar case could be made for Juice WRLD’s “Legends Never Die.” Though Juice has been ignored by the recording academy for the past two years, he died of a drug overdose last December — perhaps even more reason to make it right this time?

Performance front-runners DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion could also show up here. Megan Thee Stallion is vying for a nomination for her EP “Suga,” which includes the hits “Savage” and “Captain Hook.” Megan would be only the second solo woman to win this category after Cardi B (“Invasion of Privacy“) a couple of years ago. DaBaby is competing here with “KIRK” (not his other album released during the eligibility period, “Blame it On Baby”), which includes his hit “BOP” and earned a BET nomination for Album of the Year.

Other contenders to watch out for are Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternale Atake,” Rod Wave‘s “Pray 4 Love,” Jay Electronica’s “A Written Testimony” and Eminem’s “Music to Be Murdered By.”

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