Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners (by Year)

(Photo © Theo Wargo/Getty)
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Grammy Best Rap Album Award Winners


The Best Rap Album category, the biggest hip-hop recognition at the Grammys, was introduced in 1996. Let's take a retrospective look at the lucky albums that have won this prestigious honor since 1996.

 The Best Rap Album category, the biggest hip-hop recognition at the Grammys, was introduced in 1996. Let's take a retrospective look at the lucky albums that have won this prestigious honor since 1996.

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2017 - Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

In what amounted to a historic nomination (first streaming-exclusive, free content nominee), Chance the Rapper capped his run with a win in the Best Rap Album category for the excellent Coloring Book. Chance also took home another prestigious award in the Best New Artist category. In his thoughtful acceptance speech, Chance thanked DJ Drama for being a "pioneer in the mixtape game." He also thanked streaming platform Soundcloud for backing his work.

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2016 - Kendrick Lamar - 'To Pimp a Butterfly'


Two years after snubbing Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed good kid. m.A.A.d city, the Recording Academy made peace with Compton's finest. Unsurprisingly, Kendrick Lamar picked up the Best Rap Gramophone for Best Rap Album for his second major album, To Pimp a Butterfly.

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2015 - Eminem - 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2'

Marshall Mathers LP 2 Cover
© Shady Records/Interscope

Eminem won a record sixth Best Rap Album Grammy for The Marshall Mathers LP 2. He beat out a group that included Iggy Azalea, who would've been the first solo female rapper to win.

  • Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
  • Common – Nobody's Smiling
  • Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
  • Wiz Khalifa – Blacc Hollywood
  • ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron
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2014 - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - 'The Heist'

Macklemore - The Heist
Macklemore - The Heist. © Macklemore LLC

In one of the most controversial decisions in Grammy history, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis edged out pre-Grammy favorite Kendrick Lamar to clinch the most coveted hip-hop honor at the Grammys. Macklemore sent a text message to Kendrick the next day apologizing for "robbing" him.

  • Drake – Nothing Was the Same
  • Jay Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail
  • Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
  • Kanye West – Yeezus
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2013 - Drake - 'Take Care'

Drake - Take Care
Drake - Take Care. © Young Money

Despite competition from the likes of Nas and Rick Ross, Drake emerged victorious on Grammy night. His Best Rap Grammy for Take Care makes him the first non-US rapper to win the category.

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2012 - Kanye West - 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'

© Def Jam

Kanye West dominated the 2012 Grammys, clinching Best Rap Performance ("Otis"), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("All of the Lights"), Best Rap Song ("All of the Lights"), and Best Rap Album (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy).


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2011 - Eminem - 'Recovery'

Eminem - Recovery
Eminem - Recovery. © Interscope

Eminem won a second consecutive Best Rap Grammy for his seventh album, Recovery. Powered by hits like "Not Afraid" and "No Lover," Recovery debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 Albums chart with 741,000 copies in its first week. The Grammy win marked Slim Shady's his 5th win for Best Rap Album.

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2010 - Eminem - 'Relapse'

Eminem - Relapse
© Aftermath/Interscope

Eminem returned to glory with the release of Relapse. After an impressive outing on the chart, Slim Shady went on to bag a 4th gong for Best Rap Album for his Dr. Dre-assisted comeback effort, Relapse.


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2009 - Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners. © Cash Money/Universal

Tha Carter III earned Weezy his first grammy win in this category to no one's surprise. It wasn't exactly a cake walk. Wayne edged out hip-hop greats Jay-Z and Nas on his way to Grammy victory.

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2008 - Kanye West - Graduation

© Def Jam

Graduation made Kanye West only the second hip-hop artist to win this award three times. Eminem won it in 2000, 2001, and 2003. On the platinum selling Graduation, West graduated from sped-up soul samples and broadened his sound with more experimental offerings like "Stronger" and "Flashing Lights."


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2007 - Ludacris - Release Therapy

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners Ludacris - Release Therapy. © DTP / Def Jam

Release Therapy was considered by many to be Ludacris' most introspective album to date. As hip-hop frequently came under attack in the media, Luda briefly stepped away from business-as-usual to reflect on societal ailments ("Runaway Love") and personal responsibility ("Mouths to Feed"). Luda's Pac-like approach impressed Academy Award voters, and he came out tops in a fiercely contested category.


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2006 - Kanye West - Late Registration

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

Look no further than the Best Rap Album category for proof that 2006 was the year of Kanye West. West executive-produced two of the five albums nominated for a Grammy that year: his sophomore LP Late Registration and Common's Be. In addition to a much-deserved win for Best Rap Album, Kanye walked home with the Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song categories for "Gold Digger" and "Diamonds (From Sierra Leone)" respectively.

  • Common - Be
  • Missy Elliott - The Cookbook
  • Eminem - Encore
  • 50 Cent - The Massacre
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2005 - Kanye West - College Dropout

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winner.

The College Dropout was a well-balanced album that appealed to both mainstream and underground audiences. Kanye's warm, cozy style of hip-hop made College Dropout the all-round favorite that year.

  • Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs
  • Jay-Z - The Black Album
  • LL Cool J - The DEFinition
  • Nelly - Suit
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2004 - OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

Originally planned as two isolated albums, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was eventually packaged as a double album. Speakerboxxx featured Big Boi carrying on OutKast's southern-fried rap tradition, while The Love Below marked the beginning of Andre 3000's divorce from traditional rap. Not only did they snatch the biggest rap Grammy, they also unleashed two of 2004's biggest hits. "Hey Ya!" sat on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine weeks, (between December 6, 2003 and January 31, 2004) before being replaced at number one by Big Boi's "The Way You Move."

  • Missy Elliott - Under Construction
  • 50 Cent - Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
  • Jay-Z - The Blueprint 2: The Gift And The Curse
  • The Roots - Phrenology
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2003 - Eminem - The Eminem Show

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

Eminem's win for Best Rap Album in 2004 makes him the only hip-hop act to have achieved the feat three times. Instead of offering an acceptance speech when he won, Em reeled off an endless list of rappers who had inspired him, including Ice Cube, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, 2Pac, and of course Dr. Dre.

  • Ludacris - Word Of Mouf
  • Mystikal - Tarantula
  • Nelly - Nellyville
  • Petey Pable - Diary Of A Sinner: 1st Entry
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2002 - OutKast - Stankonia

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

Andre 3000 and Big Boi, in their creative ebullience, dazzled with Stankonia. It also helped that the album gave yield to three of the year's most popular songs: the ferocious "B.O.B.," the swaggerlicious "So Fresh, So Clean," and the baby-mama-drama anthem "Ms. Jackson." OutKast crushed the likes of Ludacris and Jay-Z to take home the gramophone for Best Rap Album.

  • Eve - Scorpion
  • Ja Rule - Pain Is Love
  • Jay-Z - The Blueprint
  • Ludacris - Back For The First Time
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2001 - Eminem - Marshall Mathers LP

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

An undeniable masterpiece, The Marshall Mathers LP reinforced Eminem's status as a rapper to watch in the new millenium. The Grammys took notice. The album also enjoyed a generous showing on the chart, shooting to the top of Billboard 200 and sending three singles ("The Real Slim Shady," "The Way I Am," and "Stan") to the Hot 100 chart.

Eminem received a standing ovation after a scinitllation rendition of "Stan" with Elton John. However, his performance with the openly gay crooner was criticized by gay rights groups protesting Eminem's homophobic lyrics.

  • DMX - ...And Then There Was X
  • Dr. Dre - 2001
  • Jay-Z - Volume 3...The Life & Times Of Shawn Carter
  • Nelly - Country Grammar
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2000 - Eminem - The Slim Shady LP

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

A 24-year old blonde MC from Detroit? Unapologetic paeans to drugs and violence? The task before Eminem seemed illogical, but he turned trials into trophies a year later. Complaints about Em's "destructive" lyrical content failed to stifle the album's success--The Slim Shady LP went on to sell over five million copies.

  • Busta Rhymes - E.L.E.: Extinction Level Event (The Final World Front)
  • Missy Elliott - Da Real World
  • Nas - I Am...
  • The Roots - Things Fall Apart
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1999 - Jay-Z - Vol 2..Hard Knock Life

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

"Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," with its Annie-sampled chorus, marked the beginning of Jay-Z's mainstream domination and helped move 5 million units of Vol 2...Hard Knock Life. Jay didn't attend the Academy Awards in 1999, but he was still awarded "Best Rap Album" ahead of Big Pun and A Tribe Called Quest.

  • Big Pun - Capital Punishment
  • Jermaine Dupri - Life in 1472 Soundtrack
  • Mase - Harlem World
  • A Tribe Called Quest - The Love Movement
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1998 - Puff Daddy & the Family - No Way Out

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

Propelled by the sensational Biggie tribute "I'll Be Missing You," No Way Out quickly became a commercial success, shifting over 500,000 units in its first week of release. It also spawned three successful singles, including the aforementioned "I'll be Missing You" and "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down."

Not everyone was pleased with Puffy's Best Rap Album win. While Shawn Combs was onstage accepting one of the many awards she won that night, Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard bum-rushed the stage to complain that Wu deserved Puffy's trophy. "Puffy is good but Wu-Tang is for the children."

  • The Notorious B.I.G. - Life After Death
  • Wyclef Jean - The Carnival
  • Missy Elliott - Supa Dupa Fly
  • Wu-Tang Clan - Wu-Tang Forever
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1997 - The Fugees - The Score

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

The Score was so good it made everyone forget about the Fugees' first CD. And, truth be told, The Score was an improvement over the lukewarm Blunted on Reality. The trio was rewarded on Grammy night, winning the Best Rap Grammy in a category that included 2Pac and A Tribe Called Quest.


  • Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise
  • L.L. Cool J - Mr. Smith
  • A Tribe Called Quest - Beats, Rhymes & Life
  • 2Pac - All Eyez On Me
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1996 - Naughty By Nature - Poverty's Paradise

Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Winners.

Naughty By Nature's third album, Poverty's Paradise, was the first CD to win a Grammy for Best Rap Album. The disc featured standouts like "Sunshine" and "Feel Me Flow."

  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - E. 1999 Eternal
  • Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version
  • Skee-Lo - I Wish
  • 2Pac - Me Against The World