In recent years, the Grammys have caught heat from the hip-hop community for a few reasons. For starters, the winning announcements for all rap categories get minimal coverage or aren’t even aired on live TV. Instead of being included in the main program, they are usually announced before the entire telecast even begins. This may seem like a small loss but can you imagine rapping your way to a Grammy and then not even being able to deliver a timeless acceptance speech draped up and dripped out in some luxurious outfit?
Secondly, the nominees and winners are debatable. The nominees and winners are chosen by Academy voting members. These are people involved in the creative and technical part of recording or songwriting across all genres. That includes country music, folk and children’s music. Not exactly a hip-hop head hotbed. Take Macklemore’s sweep last year as a prime example. The Heist was a better album than good kid, m.A.A.d city? Get real. But, like them or not, the 57th Annual Grammy Awards are less than one month away and the rap category is still standing.
Here is everything you need to know.
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE
This category recognizes the best overall hip-hop track of the year. The winner of this category needs to have the best artist performance, production, engineering and master mix altogether. This is essentially the best rap record of the year and the nominees reflect that pretty well. On the docket they have Childish Gambino’s “3005“, Drake’s “0-100“, Eminem’s “Rap God“, Kendrick Lamar’s “i” and Lecrae’s “All I Need Is You“. This one will actually be a close call but due to the cultural impact and non-traditional formula “i” made in this year’s fourth quarter, look for it to be the winner.
BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION
This award is a tricky one. By Grammy definition, this ward is presented to the best “recorded Rap/Sung collaborative performance by artists who do not normally perform together and the collaborative artist(s) should be recognized as a featured artist(s)”. By this definition, you would think that the winning song would include a rapper being paired with an artist from a polar opposite genre in some type of weird rap experiment but the this year, that usually isn’t the case. Previous years’ winners include Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and Rihanna and perhaps the most legendary collab between Eve and Gwen Stefani. This year, the nominees follow suit. Up for the award is Common and Jhene Aiko’s “Blak Majik“, Eminem and Rihanna’s “The Monster“, Drake and Makonnen’s “Tuesday“, ScHoolboy Q and BJ The Chicago Kid’s “Studio” and finally Kanye West and Charlie Wilson’s “Bound 2“. Rihanna is a notorious Grammy winner, especially in this category. There is something about her voice that gives a rap song the ultimate hook it needs to be a smash. Look for RiRi and Marshall to take this one home.
BEST RAP SONG
This award is similar to Best Rap Performance but instead of the overall track being recognized, it is only the songwriting that is taken into consideration. This category is usually is given to rap record that has a strong message from start to finish. Although this is not a requirement, it winning song tends to be more sophisticated in terms of penmanship than most. Up for the award this year is Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda“, Kanye West’s “Bound 2”, Kendrick Lamar’s “i”, Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz” and Drake’s “0-100”. Naturally, the shoe-in would be “i” due to its positive message and subtly catchy chorus but don’t sleep on “Bound 2”. Kanye is a master songwriter and this Kim K ballad could easily have the Academy voting members take his side.
BEST RAP ALBUM
Here it is. The ultimate award. The Grammy that everyone who has ever spit a bar has thought about winning. This category, though still prestigious, has lost of some credibility due to its questionable winners and flawed criteria. On top of that, the hip-hop community has been very vocal about their frustrations with 2014’s lack on quality rap music and the appropriation of black music. Even though 2015 looks to be more promising in terms of quality albums, 2014 still delivered some solid LPs. The nominees this year are Iggy Azalea’s The New Classic, Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet, Common’s Nobody’s Smiling, Eminem’s Marshall Mather LP2, ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron and Wiz Khalifa’s Blacc Hollywood. For most hip-hop fans, it doesn’t matter who wins, as long is Iggy loses. There has been so much controversy surrounding her place in hip-hop that if she beats out legends like Common and Eminem, hip-hop will lose total faith in the Grammys.
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