Black Thought’s Epic Freestyle Is Nominated For A Grammy
The nominations for the 2024 Grammy Awards were announced Friday (November 10). As the symbolic 50th year for Hip-Hop marches towards its close, there are several nominated albums and songs that exemplify the benchmark year and the culture.
In the “Best Rap Song” category, Black Thought’s “Love Letter” is nominated. The single, released by BET as Benny Boom-directed music video in February, represented The Roots’ co-founder’s dedication to Hip-Hop. “Beneath the flickering lamp post, we dance / Managing to keep the kick of the amp closer than / What some refer to as the spiritual santos / That span the days of Dapper Dan through June Ambrose / The band made us clap our hands / What came after was the scratch from the Grand Wizards and Grand Masters / One topic of discussion was whose hands were faster / Than a 6 train, where the illest tags were plastered / The pillars of the village at the origin of it / Came to occupy the space of our eternal beloved / This culture we constructed, was determined to thug it, and kept it rugged / While the proverbial gates got flooded / Cold-blooded, no budget / But we became raw to end the gang wars / What we started this thang for / So we were kings of pursuing visions of grandeur / With root of rhythm it was true religion we came towards,” raps the South Philadelphia native in a song that was later released by BET to digital streaming platforms in September. The song shouts out Sha Rock, Sylvia Robinson, Salt-n-Pepa, Megan Thee Stallion, MC Lyte, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah, Nicki Minaj, Lauryn Hill, and Cardi B. It also nods to A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, JAY-Z, JAY-Z, Drake, Diddy, Eric B. & Rakim, Run-D.M.C., with cues to Fearless Four, Ghostface Killah, Curren$y, Migos, Common, Grand Wizard Theodore, and others.
Black Thought will compete against some of the artists he references in the song. The “Best Rap Performance” category nominees also include Drake & 21 Savage’s “Rich Flex,” Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar’s “The Hillbillies,” Coi Leray’s Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five-sampling “Players,” and Killer Mike and Andre 3000’s “Scientists & Engineers.” Mike and Dre’s track is also up for “Best Rap Song,” against “Rich Flex,” Doja Cat’s “Attention,” Lil Uzi Vert’s “I Just Wanna Rock,” as well as Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s “Barbie World.”
“Scientists and Engineers,” which also features past Grammy-winner Future and Eryn Allen Kane, marked a reunion between the two Dungeon Family artists, who—20 years ago—won “Best Rap Song By A Duo Or Group” for OutKast and Mike’s “The Whole World.”
Mike’s album, MICHAEL, is a noteworthy inclusion in the “Best Rap Album” category, as the Run The Jewels co-founder competes for his first win—amid a long-awaited return to his solo catalog. The VLNS/Loma Vista/Concord Music Group release competes against Nas & Hit-Boy’s King’s Disease III, Drake & 21 Savage’s Her Loss, Travis Scott’s UTOPIA, and Metro Boomin’s late ’22 drop, HEROES & VILLAINS. In 2021, Nas won his first Grammy for the first King’s Disease installment. He and Hit-Boy announced a pause in their collaborative run, following their third ’23 drop—Magic 3.
Hit-Boy and Metro Boomin’ are also competing in the “Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical” category. They take on Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II, Jack Antonoff, and Daniel Nigro.
In other contests, J. Cole and Lil Durk’s “All My Life” is up for “Best Melodic Rap Performance” against songs by Drake & 21 Savage, SZA, Doja Cat, and Burna Boy with 21.
Previously, Black Thought has won Grammy Awards for The Roots’ “You Got Me,” “Hang On In There,” Wake Up!, as well as his contributions to the Hamilton soundtrack. Notably, Tariq Trotter’s 2023 album, Glorious Game, with band El Michels Affair, was not nominated. This month, he published a book, The Upcycled Self: A Memoir On The Art Of Becoming Who We Are.
In February, Black Thought, Questlove, and The Roots organized a 50th anniversary Hip-Hop tribute performance at the Grammys that involved LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Scarface, Ice-T, Method Man, Lil Uzi Vert, The LOX, and many more.