ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards Names Lil Baby Songwriter of Year, UMPG as Top Publisher

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Rapper Lil Baby was named songwriter of the year in the Wednesday unveiling of winners of the 34th annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards, held virtually today through Thursday on the performing rights organization’s social media.

Dominant plays for Lil Baby songs like “Baby,” “The Bigger Picture,” “Emotionally Scarred” and “For the Night” contributed to the honor. In celebration of his win, ASCAP will premiere an original video of the rapper performing a new version of “The Bigger Picture” Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET/1 PT on the org’s YouTube channel.

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Cardi B had previously won the songwriter of the year award in 2019 and 2020, preceded by Quavo and Gucci Mane.

Not surprisingly, Universal Music Publishing Group was again named publisher of the year, with UMPG claiming top R&B and hip-songs including the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” the DaBaby/Roddy Ricch collaboration “Rockstar” and “Laugh Now Cry Later” by Drake and Lil Durk.

The top hip-hop/R&B & rap song award went to the ASCAP-affiliated writers of the Chris Brown/Drake smash “No Guidance”: Anderson “Vinylz” Hernandez, Che Ecru, Joshua “J-Louis” Huizar, Matthew “Boi-1da” Samuels and Noah “40” Shebib.

Top gospel song was awarded to Kanye West’s “Follow God” — from his “Jesus Is King” album — and its ASCAP co-writers, Bryant “XCELENCE” Bell and Jahmal “BoogzDaBeast” Gwin.

As announced ahead of the virtual ceremony, ASCAP’s ceremonial Voice of the Culture Award was presented to Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and D-Nice for their influence on culture as the creators of Verzuz and Club Quarantine during the pandemic.

“During the beginning of the pandemic,” said D-Nice, in a discussion following the award presentation (see video below), “it was about playing music to save lives, and to keep music around, to keep people dancing together. This represents that this mission has been accomplished.”

Said Swizz Beatz, “We gave people a safe haven to run to. Whether it was running away from the news we’ve seen every day, or whether it was running back in the house after countless hours of protest outside.”

The complete list of winners is now online at

The wrap-up of the multi-day awards rollout Thursday will include a tribute to DMX, followed later by an “afterparty” — a special edition of Club Quarantine — that can be seen that day on D-Nice’s Instagram Live channel at 4 p.m. ET/1 PT.

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