How Many Rap Songs Have Won an Oscar?

Historically, hip hop artists haven’t had much love from Oscar voters; that changed in 2003 when Eminem won his golden statuette for “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile.

Three 6 Mafia would go on to claim this prize two years later for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” from Hustle and Flow.


Eminem, widely considered the world’s most controversial rapper, has long defined what it means to be an iconic modern star. A high school dropout who found an outlet for his youthful anger through hip-hop music. Adopting the stage name M&M (an acronym of his initials shortened into Eminem), his debut album The Marshall Mathers LP became one of music history’s fastest selling records.

At first, its profanity, glorifying drug use and violence, apparent homophobia and misogyny outraged many; particularly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Yet despite such objections from critics like them, the album still sold over 19 million copies and won multiple awards.

Eminem found himself struggling with drug abuse shortly after achieving success, however. He became hooked on prescription painkillers and Ambien, which erased some memories. At one point he would spend up to 12 hours each day sleeping – taking pills in order to stay awake – which contributed to the breakdown of his marriage and eventually homeless status for an extended period of time.

Eminem found renewed success after the release of his semi-autobiographical film 8 Mile. Both critically and commercially successful, its songs including “Lose Yourself,” which won both an Academy Award (first ever for rap music) and Grammy (this year and next). Eminem was also awarded another Grammy Award in 2007 for his album Recovery.

By the end of this decade, he had earned a standing among hip-hop’s premier artists. Returning in 2013 with MMLP2, an album which reached number one on charts and earned him a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, followed by Revival (2017) and Kamikaze (2018) which both earned critical acclaim from critics.

Eminem may have shared Oscar glory with Ludacris, but Eminem stands alone as the only male performer to have earned both awards simultaneously. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of becoming the first rap artist ever to win an Album of the Year Grammy – no small achievement considering it took decades for Recording Academy to establish such an honor for hip-hop music.

Three Six Mafia

Eminem became the first rapper ever to win an Academy Award with his 2002 track “Lose Yourself,” but Memphis rap group Three 6 Mafia outdid Eminem by winning for their song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” from Hustle and Flow. Although many found this victory surprising, it also signaled changes within hip hop culture.

Starting as early as 1991, Mystic Stylez soon rose to become a cult favorite within underground circles following their 1995 debut album Mystic Stylez. Their horror-themed lyrics and destructive beats set them apart from mainstream artists; as time progressed their impact only increased further; becoming one of the most well-known Southern acts throughout this decade despite internal discord and personal tragedies.

At the end of 2006, Three 6 Mafia had fallen on hard times and several members had died, leaving only DJ Paul and Juicy J remaining to form the new Three 6 Mafia with Koopsta Knicca, Gangsta Boo, and Crunchy Black joining. Together they released several albums and mixtapes before creating their soundtrack for Hustle and Flow movie.

The movie was an outstanding success and its song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Taraji P. Henson performed at the awards ceremony as the main character from her movie; her performance was well received and all three members took home their trophy as winners.

Even though Eminem’s Academy win didn’t immediately lead to other rap songs receiving similar recognition, it did set a precedent. Hip hop and awards shows have had an often tenuous relationship; this victory proved that hip hop deserves serious consideration as an artistic genre.

Although Three 6 Mafia have since disbanded, their winning streak helped pave the way for future rappers. They played an instrumental role in developing mumble rap genre and drawing more attention to it overall. Their impressive winning streak remains one of the greatest achievements in hip-hop history and their music will always be remembered fondly.


Historically, the Academy Awards has not honored rappers with Oscars; however, this has changed over time. Eminem became the first rapper ever to win an Oscar with “My Name Is” from Crash; then Three 6 Mafia took home one for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow; finally in 2015 Common earned one with his song “Glory” from Selma; its popularity became an anthem for equality movements worldwide.

Common is well known in hip hop for his socially-minded approach to his art. His smooth delivery and insightful bars have become hallmarks of hip hop; his most recent album Be was an enormous commercial success that earned him a Grammy nomination while his performance in Slumdog Millionaire earned an Academy Award nomination as well.

Common released his third album One Day It’ll All Make Sense to widespread critical acclaim in 1997, featuring De La Soul, Q-Tip, Kanye West, Black Thought and Chantay Savage among many other guests – becoming both critically and commercially successful as it helped establish his presence within the rap industry. The success of One Day It’ll All Make Sense was widely celebrated.

2022 was another landmark year in terms of Grammy awards for Rap Song. While there were several exceptional nominees, Kanye West eventually took home the award with “All of the Lights”, featuring Rihanna and Cudi. Its music combined elements from rock, pop and electronic genres to push beyond traditional notions of hip hop music.

At the 2023 ceremony, there were many exceptional performances by both newcomer and veteran rappers alike. Notable artists who performed included Jack Harlow, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar – some of which made their first performance ever at an awards show! Although most songs don’t fall directly under hip-hop’s genre umbrella anymore, its influence continues to thrive and shape American culture regardless.

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is one of the most critically acclaimed rappers of his generation, often described as socially and politically conscious in his music. His songs have won him multiple Grammys, Pulitzer Prizes, BET Hip Hop Awards – more than any other rapper ever before; most recently winning three categories at 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards (Hip Hop Artist of the Year, Best Live Performer lyricist and Video Director ).

Compton-based MC, SZA was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Original Score for her collaboration “All the Stars”. Their song will compete against Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper’s song from A Star Is Born; winners will be revealed on Sunday, February 24.

Growing up in an environment filled with violence, K-Dot managed to stay out of trouble by focusing on his academics and staying out of trouble himself. Yet he remained keenly aware of street life around him and began writing lyrics as early as his teenage years. In 2012 he signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and released his debut album entitled good kid, m.A.A.d city which proved both critical and commercial successes.

His subsequent multi-platinum album, To Pimp a Butterfly, broke Spotify’s global first-day streaming record. DAMN followed soon thereafter as an accessible project still exploring race, identity and self-reflection – eventually earning him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Music as the first non-classical or jazz musician ever awarded the honor.

Kendrick Lamar was honored at the 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards as he became the most awarded rapper ever at this event. He became the first artist ever to secure Hip Hop Artist of the Year three times, tying Kanye West and Jay-Z for most wins in that category. Additionally, he won his ninth Lyricist of the Year title while making history by becoming the first rapper ever to win Video Director of the Year twice!