It’s awards season, and that means one thing: it’s time to talk EGOTs. Winning at least one Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar, and Tony award has long been seen as the pinnacle of the entertainment business. In 2018, hip-hop affiliate John Legend became the 15th EGOT winner in history when he took home an Emmy for producing Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, but to date, no rapper has ever accomplished this rare feat—yet. (Unless you count EGOT champ Whoopi Goldberg as a rapper for ending Ms. Lauryn Hill’s career in Sister Act 2.)
Still, there are plenty of talented rap artists who are either very close to achieving an EGOT, or who have the talent and potential to one day pull it off. So, who will do it first?
Below is our highly scientific ranking of hip-hop’s most likely EGOT winners, and what it would take for them to cross the finish line. If you’re reading this in the future and it is no longer accurate, just know that we don't feel at all ashamed.
Won: 3 GRAMMYs
Needs: Emmy, Oscar, Tony
T.I. is on this list for one very important reason: he’s already been nominated for a Tony for his contributions to Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical. Considering theatre work is what will hold back most rap artists from achieving an EGOT, Tip and his three GRAMMYs are in a great position.
I'm not going to lie: T.I. has a lot of hard work ahead of him if he wants to make history. But if he stays active on Broadway and finally bags that Tony, the hardest part will already be over. Also, again, T.I. wrote some of Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical. And he did such a good job he nearly won a Tony. We’ll just have to wait and see if Spongebob returns the favor and sends Squidward to go a guest verse on T.I.’s next album.
Won: 11 GRAMMYs
Needs: Emmy, Oscar, Tony
It's no coincidence Pharrell's biggest hit of the past decade was from a movie soundtrack. (“Happy” from that iconic piece of cinema history, Despicable Me 2.) In fact, Skateboard P has done so much film soundtrack work of late that you know the man is serious about his EGOT prospects. But that might actually be his downfall.
Pharrell once told an interviewer "I need some Oscars," which, he totally deserves, but also kind of makes him seem a tiny bit desperate. There’s a very high possibility that his overwhelming Oscar thirst will turn him into the Leonardo DiCaprio of the music world—always nominated, never a winner. That said, Leo did eventually win.
Emmy-wise Pharrell can hone his comedy chops and guest host SNL. As for the Tony, you know he would take a leaf out of T.I.'s book and write Minions: The Musical. It's probably already in production as we speak! (If it isn’t, any Broadway producers reading this can have that idea for free.)
Won: 3 GRAMMYs, 1 Oscar (kind of)
Needs: Emmy, Tony
Sean “Diddy” Combs—or Huffle Puff Daddy as we call him in Britain—probably has a game plan for how to complete his EGOT, but boy oy boy, does he have a lot of work ahead of him.
He already kinda qualifies as an Oscar winner (he was the executive producer on Best Documentary picture Undefeated, but the statues technically went to the director and non-exec producers), but you know he has space in his awards cabinet for an Academy Award he can truly call his own. All he has to do now is spend less time brainstorming new stage names and more time producing movies. Wrong as it may seem, you can’t win an award for renaming yourself Brother Love.
To bag an Emmy, Diddy just has to swallow his pride and guest star on Empire. And then there's the Tony. Holler If Ya Hear Me—a musical based on Tupac's life story—ran for just six weeks on Broadway in 2014. Would a Diddy-produced musical based on hometown hero Biggie Smalls’ life play better in New York City?
Won: 15 GRAMMYs, 1 Oscar
Needs: Emmy, Tony
As an OG (Oscar & GRAMMY winner), Eminem should be further up this list, especially considering “Lose Yourself” from the motion picture 8 Mile is the most successful single to ever take home an Oscar. And there’s no doubt he could win an Emmy. But it all comes down to this: would Eminem do Broadway?
On the one hand, he’s a known fan of Hamilton. On the other, his recent attitude towards negative criticism suggests he's probably not open to trying something new that he might not immediately be good at. Especially if DJBooth writer Andy James follows up this article with “10 Worst Rhymes from 8 Mile: The Musical.”
The best chance Marshall has of pulling off an EGOT might be if he reads this list. Prove us wrong, sir.
6. Will Smith
Won: 4 GRAMMYs
Needs: Emmy, Oscar, Tony
Will Smith is a lot closer to EGOTing than his lack of relevant awards suggests. He should have won an Emmy for Fresh Prince. He should have won an Oscar for Ali. He quite possibly should have won a Tony for producing Fela!. In another timeline, Will Smith is partying hard with Whoopi, John Legend, and Andrew Lloyd Webber at the EGOT mansion every night.
Still, it’s not too late for him to get there. One role in an HBO prestige drama could win him an Emmy. He could easily produce a musical, so there's the Tony, and he’s already on his way to winning his first Oscar.
Later this year, Smith is playing Genie in the live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin. If he doesn’t get nominated based on his hairstyle alone, there’s a chance he could take Best Original Song. Especially if the filmmakers add a crowd-pleasing new number for him.
Or he could always rap the theme song...
5. Daveed Diggs
Won: 1 GRAMMY, 1 Tony
Needs: Emmy, Oscar
A true all-rounder, Daveed Diggs is equally involved in the TV, music, film and theatre worlds, making him the perfect EGOT candidate.
The only problem is: Who is this guy?
If you're already familiar with Diggs, you either a) took out a loan to buy Hamilton tickets early in its run, or b) listen to alternative hip-hop group Clipping.
Either way, Diggs, 37, already has a GRAMMY (for the Hamilton soundtrack), so he doesn’t need to become a chart-topper. But he will need a few breakout acting roles if he’s going to win Oscar and Emmy gold.
No, Diggs may not be a household name, and he’s not even primarily a rapper, but he’s definitely the dark horse to become the first EGOT who raps.
4. Donald Glover
Won: 5 GRAMMY, 2 Emmys
Needs: Oscar, Tony
Donald Glover might be the most threatening double threat actor-rapper since Willard Smith himself. In fact, as an actor-rapper-writer-director, it’s only a matter of time before he wins an Academy Award, as he could be a nominated in more Oscar categories than anyone else on this list: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Short Film, Best Original Song. Hell, the guy’s so multi-talented and unpredictable that he could end up winning Best Visual Effects for all we know.
Glover doesn’t seem to have anything in the works for Broadway at the moment, but after he takes home his first Oscar, he should really test his limits. It’d be too easy for Gambino to take a Tony for a hip-hop musical. To really go the extra mile, we'd like to see his take on Shakespeare.
3. Queen Latifah
Won: 1 Emmy, 1 GRAMMY
Needs: Oscar, Tony
Queen Latifah is already a half-EGOT, and as a past Oscar nominee, she is extremely close to being seventy-five percent of the way there. (She lost out on her Best Supporting Actress nomination for 2002’s Chicago to co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones even though it’s clear CZ-J had more of a leading part in that movie and was therefore nominated in the wrong category. I have strong feelings about Chicago’s Oscar campaign but I’ll save them for another article.)
But that's all in the past. Latifah’s 2015 Emmy win for producing Bessie, in which she played the titular Bessie Smith, suggests she now has another avenue to win Oscar gold: producing a Best Picture winner. Or perhaps she deserves an honorary Oscar for co-starring in 2004’s Taxi—the film that helped prove Jimmy Fallon did not deserve a movie career.
As is the case with most of hip-hop’s near-EGOTs, a lack of Broadway work is what is currently holding back the Queen. Perhaps she could reprise her role in a new production of Chicago? The stage door would be wide open.
Won: 1 Emmy, 3 GRAMMYs, 1 Oscar
Common is so close to his EGOT he can probably smell it. After a long career focused on music, Common “put a hyphen on [his] name” to become a “rapper-actor-activist” as he says on his 2016 track “Home.” So far, his acting career hasn’t earned him any of the EGOT-relevant awards, but his involvement in TV and movie soundtracks has won him an Emmy, for his contribution to the documentary 13th, and an Oscar, which he won for “Glory” on the soundtrack to Selma. “Glory” was the same track that earned John Legend his Oscar, setting him on the path to his EGOT.
Really, Common’s Oscar win was inevitable, purely because the shiny, bald-headed statuettes are actually based on his likeness.
As usual, it’s Broadway that’s the biggest hurdle to Common’s EGOT dreams. There were rumors a few years ago that he would star in a revival of Howard Sackler’s Pulitzer-winning boxing play The Great White Hope. He’s also expressed interest in taking on a role in Hamilton, again to no avail. If Common wants to join his “Glory” collaborator in EGOT nirvana, he needs a Broadway project to pull through.
1. Lin-Manuel Miranda
Won: 1 Emmy, 3 GRAMMYs, 3 Tonys
You knew this was coming. It’s almost like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s career has been tailored specifically to reach EGOT status. At this point, an EGOT is his destiny.
Miranda might not be a traditional rapper because he started his career in theatre, but that’s exactly how he managed to reach the top of this list.
After winning a Tony for In the Heights, and another two for Hamilton, Miranda won an Emmy for a song he wrote for the Tony awards’ TV broadcast. It’s almost like he was rubbing in just how easy it is to win Tonys.
Now, Miranda appears to be focusing a lot of his attention on winning an Oscar. In 2017, he was nominated for the Moana soundtrack. This year, despite his scarily good British accent, he missed out on a nomination for Mary Poppins Returns. He’s also directing a movie adaptation of the musical Tick, Tick… Boom! and he’s known to be working on more projects with Disney.
In other words, we'll probably need to update this list in a year's time. And that's great news. Because even if he isn't a rapper in the conventional sense, by writing Hamilton, Miranda proved that hip-hop can flourish on Broadway, paving the way for countless rapping EGOTs to come.