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GREIN ON GRAMMYS: RAP

We asked our Grammy Whisperer to do some of his trademark whispering in various genre fields. He kicked things off with Pop and then took on Rock and Alternative. Next, he looks at Rap.


Nominations in the rap field are reviewed by a committee of Grammy insiders which makes the final choices. This isn't the same committee as the one that reviews the nominations in the "Big Four" categories, though it functions the same. The members look at the 20 recordings that received the most votes and pick the five they think are most worthy.

 

Best Rap Album

The likely nominees are Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy, Drake's Scorpion, Black Panther: The Album, Travis Scott's Astroworld and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V.

This would be Drake's sixth nomination in this category; the third for Lil Wayne. Both of Wayne's previous noms were for albums in Tha Carter franchise. If V is also nominated, Tha Carter will tie JAY-Z's The Blueprint for the most noms in this category by a franchise.

Black Panther, which was curated by Kendrick Lamar, would be the first soundtrack to be nominated in this category. I was surprised when the album was entered here rather than in the Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media category, where it would have been practically guaranteed a nom. It's hard to imagine them moving it over here and then not nominating it. Would that be any way to treat a Pulitzer Prize winner?

The next five in terms of likeliness to be nominated are J. Cole's KOD, Kids See Ghosts' Kids See Ghosts, XXXTentacion's ?, Eminem's Kamikaze and Pusha T's Daytona.

This would be J. Cole's second nom in this category (out of his last three releases). XXX would be the third rapper to be nominated posthumously in this category, following 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.

Kids See Ghosts is a collabo by Kanye West, who has had seven noms in this category, and Kid Cudi, who was featured on West's "All of the Lights," which won a Grammy seven years ago as Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Kids See Ghosts received better reviews than West's own album, ye, with which it is competing for a nomination. If either of these albums is nominated, it will up West's tally of noms in this category to eight, second only to JAY-Z's 11.

(Scott also has a collabo project that is competing with his solo album, Astroworld. Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho is his collabo with Quavo, of the trio Migos, which was nominated in this category last year.)

Eminem, who, like West, has had seven noms in this category, may be squeezed out with his latest. This would break a perfect Grammy record. Eminem has been nominated in this category every year he has had a new studio album, dating back to his breakthrough, 1999's The Slim Shady LP.

Juice WRLD's Goodbye & Good Riddance, Brockhampton's Iridescence and the late Mac Miller's Swimming are other strong entries that are likely to be squeezed out by the competition.

Nas's NASIR and Lupe Fiasco's Drogas Wave are also likely to be left behind, even though both artists are four-time nominees in this category. Three other past nominees in this category are likewise facing long odds with their current releases—Nicki Minaj's Queen, Wu-Tang's The Saga Continues and Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers 2.


Best Rap Performance

The likely nominees are Drake's "Nice for What," Travis Scott, Drake, Big Hawk & Swae Lee's "Sicko Mode," The Carters' "Apeshit," Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake's "King's Dead" and Cardi B's "Be Careful."

Drake has amassed seven noms in this category, more than anyone else in the category's seven-year history. (For all that, he has yet to win in this category.) JAY-Z (one-half of The Carters) has received six noms in this category. Lamar has tallied four.

"Sicko Mode" is credited to just Scott on the single, but the Grammys also credited his three featured vocalists.

The official Grammy entry list shows "Apeshit" as "Apes***," a mistake in my view because it is censoring the very art the Grammys are purporting to honor. What if "Apeshit" is nominated? Will the nominations list also censor the title? The Grammys should rethink this practice. You can lament the coarsening of the culture, but it's not the Grammys' role to protect those with tender sensibilities from art it thinks goes too far. You can honor the art or not honor the art, but you can't censor the art.

"Apeshit" contains a pointed lyric in which JAY-Z reflects on his Grammy experience in January, in which he was showered with nominations only to go home empty-handed. "Tell the Grammys, 'Fuck that 0 for 8 shit.'" (Good burn, JAY.)

Beyoncé (the other half of The Carters) has received eight noms for Best Rap/Sung Performance, but this would be her first for Best Rap Performance.

"King's Dead" is from the Black Panther soundtrack. Jay Rock's name is listed first on the album and single, but Lamar's name is listed first on the Grammy entry list. For his part, Blake is vying to become the second English pop artist to be nominated in this category. Paul McCartney was nominated three years ago for his featured role on Kanye West's "All Day."

The Nominations Review Committee will probably want to have a female rapper in the mix. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj both have strong entries in the running. Cardi B may have an edge because more people are familiar with her album.

The next five in terms of likeliness to be nominated are Lil Wayne featuring Lamar's "Mona Lisa," Minaj's "Chun-Li," Migos featuring Drake's "Walk It Talk It," J. Cole's "ATM" and Eminem's "Killshot."

Lil Wayne has been nominated four times in this category. Minaj and Eminem have been nominated twice; Migos and J. Cole, once.

Other eligible tracks that made the top 10 on the rap chart include BlocBoy JB & Drake's "Look Alive," Gucci Mane featuring Migos' "I Get the Bag," Lil Baby & Drake's "Yes Indeed," Logic's "44 More," Offset & Metro Boomin's "Ric Flair Drip," 6ix9ine's "Gummo," Tyga featuring Offset's "Taste," West's "Yikes" and YG featuring 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Minaj's "Big Bank."

Other eligible entries include Brockhampton's "1999 Wildfire," Huncho Jack's "Saint," Jeezy featuring J. Cole & Lamar's "American Dream," Mac Miller's "Self Care," Janelle Monáe's "Django Jane," N.E.R.D. & Rihanna's "Lemon," Pusha T's "If You Know You Know" and A Tribe Called Quest's "The Space Program."

 Best Rap/Sung Performance

The likely nominees in this very competitive category are Childish Gambino's "This Is America," Juice WRLD's "Lucid Dreams," Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin's "I Like It," Drake's "In My Feelings" and Post Malone featuring 21 Savage's "Rockstar."

J. Balvin would be the first Latin music star to receive a nom in this category. Drake has amassed five noms in this category. Post is also likely to be nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Better Now." These noms, if they come to pass, will help make up for the fact that he was ruled ineligible to compete for Best New Artist.

The next five in terms of likeliness to be nominated are Kendrick Lamar & SZA's "All the Stars," XXXTentacion's "Sad!," Lil Wayne featuring XXXTentacion's "Don't Cry," Kids See Ghosts' "Reborn" and Scott, Philip Bailey, Blake, Kid Cudi & Stevie Wonder's "Stop Trying to Be God."

Lil Wayne has received five noms in this category. Lamar has received four. XXX would be the first artist to receive a nom in this category posthumously.

Kanye West, who is one-half of Kids See Ghosts, has received 14 noms in this category—more than any other artist. In addition, West has two eligible entries under his own name—"All Mine" and "I Love It," a collabo with Lil Pump.

Other eligible tracks that made the top 10 on the rap chart include J. Cole's "Kevin's Heart."

Other eligible entries include Mac Miller's "Ladders" and Pusha T & 070 Shake's "Santaria."

One final note: Lil Wayne is one of five rappers whose name starts with "Lil" to be entered for Best Rap Album this year. The others are Lil Baby, Lil Pump, Lil Skies and Lil Xan. I'm thinking of changing my byline to Lil Paul, just to stay current. I'm going to run it by Lil Lenny.

 

FOR FURTHER READING

Grein on Grammys: Album of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Record of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Song of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Best New Artist

Grein on Grammys: Country

Grein on Grammys: Pop

Grein on Grammys: Rock and Alternative

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