A Look at the Best Rap Song Nominees for the 2024 Grammys

Last Friday (November 10), the Recording Academy announced all the nominees for the upcoming 2024 Grammy awards. For the Best Rap Song category, the Academy defines it as “A Songwriter(s) Award,” which serves to reward the track’s writer(s) more so than its lead artist.

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However, each of the five songs nominated are performed by marquee hip-hop acts, and all served as key moments for their careers in the last year. So, one by one, we decided to break down each “Best Rap Song” candidate, and how impactful winning would be for its respective artist(s).

1. “Attention,” Doja Cat

Coming into her latest studio album Scarlet, released on September 22, Doja Cat was focused on not relying on her trademark, glitzy pop sound. Instead, she was looking to transition into a more hip-hop-oriented approach, flexing her undervalued rapping ability. When she came out with Scarlet‘s lead single “Attention” in mid-June, it was clear that she stuck to her word.

Though the song is highlighted by a harmonious, sensual chorus, which Doja sings over the instrumental’s glistening harp, the rest of the track contains ferociously rapped verses. Making sure to insert boom-bap style drums, Doja spits angsty bars about embracing her bald-headed look and dispelling claims that she is copying Nicki Minaj’s style.

Overall, Scarlet had a bit of an underwhelming performance sales-wise and on the charts. But, considering its other promotional single “Paint the Town Red” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned its own Grammy nomination, “Attention” winning Best Rap Song would confirm that Doja’s hip-hop crossover was a true success.

The writers of “Attention” include Rogét Chahayed, Amala Zandile Dlamini (Doja Cat), and Ari Starace.

2. “Barbie World,” Nicki Minaj feat. Ice Spice

After collaborating earlier in the year on the “Princess Diana” remix, which peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice ran it back for the Barbie film soundtrack. Crafting “Barbie World” by sampling Aqua’s iconic “Barbie Girl” hit from 1997, Minaj and Spice not only matched their aesthetics with the movie but also reminded listeners of their influence in the 2023 hip-hop landscape.

“There were a couple songs that I didn’t love [for the soundtrack]. This ‘Barbie’ sample, I loved it. I just wanted it to have a dope drum, and so the one that they sent me, I loved!” Minaj told Entertainment Tonight about “Barbie World.” “And I jumped on it right away.”

Along with its Best Rap Song nomination, “Barbie World” also got nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media. Additionally, Spice was nominated in two other categories, Best New Artist and Best Pop Duo-Group Performance. If “Barbie World” is declared the winner for Best Rap Song, this would be both Spice and Minaj’s first-ever Grammy award, as Minaj has previously earned 10 nominations but zero victories.

The writers of “Barbie World” include Isis Naija Gaston (Ice Spice), Ephrem Louis Lopez Jr., and Onika Maraj (Nicki Minaj).

3. “Just Wanna Rock,” Lil Uzi Vert

One of the latest, most widespread dance crazes of the past year, Lil Uzi Vert’s late 2022 single “Just Wanna Rock” was a dominant force for months. Including a New Jersey club-inspired flair, the track not only captures Uzi’s youthful exuberance but also gives audiences of all ages a reason to drop everything and hit the dance floor at their respective bars and clubs.

Upon release, “Just Wanna Rock” peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100, and served as the lead single for Uzi’s June 30 No. 1 album, Pink Tape. If “Just Wanna Rock” is declared the winner for Best Rap Song, it would give Uzi their first-ever Grammy award after three nominations in previous years.

The writers of “Just Wanna Rock” include Mohamad Camara, Symere Woods (Lil Uzi Vert), and Javier Mercado.

[RELATED: 5 Songs We Think Should Have Been Nominated for Grammy Song of the Year That Weren’t]

4. “Rich Flex,” Drake and 21 Savage

A standout track from Drake and 21 Savage’s November 2022 joint album Her Loss, “Rich Flex” had its biggest impact on TikTok and social media. Thanks to Drake’s flamboyant and easy-going hook, paired with 21 Savage’s vintage cutthroat lyricism, the song peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100.

However, “Rich Flex” earning a nomination for Best Rap Song comes after Drake neglected to submit his two prior albums, Certified Lover Boy (2021) and Honestly, Nevermind (2022), for the 2023 Grammys. Many believe this was due to Drake’s dislike of the power that award shows like the Grammys wield.

“I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards,” he said on Instagram last year.

Regardless, Drake earned four nominations this year stemming from Her Loss, with the album being a nominee for Best Rap Album, “Rich Flex” being a nominee for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, and “Spin Bout U” being a nominee for Best Melodic Rap Performance. If “Rich Flex” is declared the winner for Best Rap Song, this would be Drake’s sixth Grammy award and 21 Savage’s second.

The writers of “Rich Flex” include Brytavious Chambers, Isaac “Zac” De Boni, Aubrey Graham (Drake), J. Gwin, Anderson Hernandez, Michael “Finatik” Mule, and Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph (21 Savage).

5. “Scientists & Engineers,” Killer Mike feat. André 3000, Future, and Eryn Allen Kane

Before Killer Mike released Michael in June, his first solo album since 2012, he put out “Scientists & Engineers” as the LP’s promotional single. Featuring Atlanta-bred heavy-hitters like André 3000 of OutKast and Future, the song served as one of the most grand and celebrated hip-hop tracks of the year.

But, it took a bit of convincing on Mike’s part to get André on “Scientists & Engineers.” As Mike explained in a self-released interview, André only thought it was just a “good” song until Mike’s friend and collaborator Cuz Lightyear told him to send André the final version, which added Eryn Allen Kane’s contribution. After hearing Kane’s part, André was fully in.

“André 3000, he’s in Japan right now as we talk, playing the flute,” Mike said. “He called me, he’s like, ‘Kill, I don’t know about the song, man. We just got a good rap record, man.’ And then Cuz (Lightyear) was like, ‘You sent him the final record?’ I’m like, ‘Nah.’ I sent it over with Eryn’s hook and stuff. He hit back with, ‘Yeah, yeah, you got the record. Who is that?!’”

Along with the Best Rap Song nomination, “Scientists & Engineers” is also a nominee in the Best Rap Performance category for the Grammys, while Michael also earned a nomination for Best Rap Album. Either three of these wins would make for Mike’s first Grammy victory as a lead artist.

The writers of “Scientists & Engineers” include André Benjamin (André 3000), Paul Beauregard, James Blake, Michael Render (Killer Mike), Tim Moore, and Dion Wilson.

Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

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