Jay Z, who has already won 17 Grammys, is likely to win two more in the rap field this year for "Holy Grail," his smash collaboration with Justin Timberlake. That would edge him closer to Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, the most by any rap artist.
"Holy Grail" is the front-runner to win both Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song. The smash contains elements of Nirvana's 1991 grunge classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which is an unlikely song to find in a hip-hop hit. Grammy voters are attracted to that kind of genre blending.
This year's other Rap/Sung Collaboration nominees are "Power Trip" by J. Cole featuring Miguel, "Part II (On The Run)" by Jay Z featuring Beyonce, "Now Or Never" by Kendrick Lamar featuring Mary J. Blige and "Remember You" by Wiz Khalifa featuring The Weeknd.
Jay Z and Timberlake co-wrote "Holy Grail" with Terius Nash, J. Harmon, Timothy Mosley & Ernest Wilson. The other Rap Song nominees are Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "Thrift Shop," A$AP Rocky's "F***in' Problems" (which he co-wrote with Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar & Noah Shebib), Drake's "Started From The Bottom" (which he co-wrote with W. Coleman and Shebib) and Kanye West's "New Slaves" (which he co-wrote with 12 collaborators, which may well constitute a Grammy record).
"New Slaves" and "Started From The Bottom" also contain elements of old songs. Per Grammy rules, the writers of the old songs aren't nominated.
Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" and "The Monster," his smash collabo with Rihanna, were released too late for this year's eligibility, but Eminem is nominated for Best Rap Performance for "Berzerk." The hit has a slight edge over "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz. This would be Eminem's 14th Grammy. He's third among rappers with the most Grammys, behind West and Jay Z.
The other nominees in this very tight race are Drake's "Started From The Bottom," Jay Z's "Tom Ford" and Kendrick Lamar's "Swimming Pools (Drank)."
Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "The Heist" are the leading candidates for Best Rap Album. Both albums are nominated for Album of the Year. Both acts are nominated for Best New Artist.
All voters are eligible to vote in the "Big Four" categories, which gives Macklemore an edge over Lamar for Best New Artist. But only dedicated rap fans vote in the Rap Field. That may work to Lamar's advantage here. Some rap fans see Macklemore as more of a pop act.
Three past winners for Best Rap Album round out the category this year: Kanye West, a four-time category champ; Jay Z, who won the award for 1998; and Drake, who won last year. They are nominated this year for "Yeezus," "Magna Carta…Holy Grail" and "Nothing Was The Same," respectively.
If "Yeezus" pulls an upset and wins for Best Rap Album, West will tie Eminem for the most wins in the history of the category (five). West's album placed second on Rolling Stone's list of the 50 best albums of 2013.