It’s been a few days, but I wanted to continue with my Grammy dissection series. This go-round, I’m analyzing the rap categories. There are plenty of solid nominations here. The most likely victors are Drake, Jay-Z & Kanye West, and possibly Nas.
Best Rap Performance
- “HYFR (Hell Ya F***ing Right),” Drake featuring Lil Wayne (Take Care)
- “N****s in Paris,” Jay-Z & Kanye West (Watch the Throne)
- “Daughters,” Nas (Life Is Good)
- “Mercy,” Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz [G.O.O.D. Music]
- “I Do,” Young Jeezy featuring Jay-Z & André 3000 (TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition)
Solid choices within this category all in all. This is another tight one, but you can make some eliminations. “I Do” gives Young Jeezy some well deserved Grammy love (he was nominated years ago for “Put On” with Kanye West), but even if it does recognize Hov and André 3000, I believe it will fall short. Nas, a veteran MC also will fall short with “Daughters,” a solid track against some stiff competition. Then we have a three-way race: Drake, ‘The Throne’ as they’re colloquially referred to, and Kanye West & G.O.O.D. Music. If you go by biggest hit, “N****s in Paris” should be victorious with “HYFR” bring up the rear. If you go by rewarding arguably the year’s best rap album, you award Drake’s “HYFR.” If you want to reward one of the summer’s biggest hits, “Mercy” is victorious. Conundrum. It’s ultimately a toss-up, but I’m changing my original thinking and going with Jay-Z & Kanye West’s “N****s in Paris.”
No Nicki Minaj? I guess “Beez in the Trap” was just a bit much for voters. What about 2 Chainz’s “No Lie” with Drake or Rick Ross’s “3 Kings” with Jay-Z & Dr. Dre?
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
- “Wild Ones,” Flo Rida featuring Sia (Wild Ones)
- “No Church in the Wild,” Jay-Z & Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream (Watch The Throne)
- “Tonight (Best You Ever Had),” John Legend featuring Ludacris
- “Cherry Wine,” Nas featuring Amy Winehouse (Life Is Good)
- “Talk That Talk,” Rihanna featuring Jay-Z (Talk That Talk)
This category is somewhat competitive. John Legend is a Grammy darling, but is “Tonight (Best You Ever Had),” a soundtrack cut, strong enough to win? “Wild Ones” was a hit for Flo Rida, but Flo has seen many of hits fall to others in Grammy contention, including “Low” and “Right Round.” That would leave “No Church in the Wild,” “Cherry Wine,” and “Talk That Talk.” “Cherry Wine” would be Nas’s strongest chance at a Grammy, given its featuring of the late Amy Winehouse. That said, despite the greatness of the cut, “Cherry Wine” has the tall task of going against The Throne and Rihanna. “No Church In the Wild” is the most unique cut on this list and arguably the best; it truly set the tone for Watch The Throne. That said, Rihanna’s Talk That Talk was largely ignored by voters this year and the title track featuring Jay-Z is one of Rihanna’s few opportunities to secure another Grammy. I’d opt for “No Church in the Wild,” but in an open category where “No Church…” may not be as well known as say “N****s in Paris,” Rihanna has a good shot.
Where is “Lotus Flower Bomb” by Wale featuring Miguel? It garnered a Best Rap Song nomination. What about “Young, Wild & Free,” which also received similar fate? We could trivialize the Bieber ‘No Go,’ but I was surprised he didn’t receive a nod for his Big Sean collaboration “As Long As You Love Me,” which annoyed us all year long. LOL. What about “Pink Matter” from Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange featuring André 3000? Also, a case could be made about Mary J. Blige minor hit “Mr. Wrong,” which features Drake.
Best Rap Song
- “Daughters,” Nas, Life Is Good
- “Lotus Flower Bomb,” Wale featuring Miguel
- “Mercy,” Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz
- “The Motto,” Drake featuring Lil Wayne (Take Care)
- “N****s In Paris,” Jay-Z & Kanye West (Watch The Throne)
- “Young, Wild & Free,” Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa featuring Bruno Mars (Mac And Devin Go To High School: Music From And Inspired By The Movie)
Another category where many nominations don’t match up with earlier nominations. “Daughters,” “Mercy,” and “N****s In Paris” are reprised, which seems like a good sign for these cuts. “Lotus Flower Bomb” wouldn’t be a bad choice, but doesn’t seem to have much ‘wiggle room.’ Drake’s “The Motto” has more given Drake’s rising star and a firmly established Lil Wayne. The problem is that voters can’t seem to decide on the song they want to recognize from Drake’s Take Care. “Young, Wild & Free” seems the best single-nominated track to win given its popularity in pop circles. So, with all that to consider, if I narrowed my choices to three, it would be “N****s in Paris,” “Mercy” and “Young, Wild & Free.” If I narrowed it to the winner, I’m continuing to put my eggs in one basket and coalesce around “N****s in Paris.”
Best Rap Album
- Take Care, Drake [Cash Money Records]
- Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1, Lupe Fiasco [Atlantic]
- Life Is Good, Nas [Def Jam]
- Undun, The Roots [Island Def Jam]
- God Forgives, I Don’t, Rick Ross [Def Jam]
- Based on a T.R.U. Story, 2 Chainz [Island Def Jam]
Six albums huh? 2 Chainz had a breakout year with Based on a T.R.U. Story spawning hits with “No Lie” featuring Drake and “Birthday Song” featuring Kanye West. Not big enough to win a Grammy, sorry dawg. Lupe, they keep nominating you and you are outside of the box times ten, but I don’t think February will reward you with a Best Rap Album “W.” But, you have won for “Daydreamin’” featuring Jill Scott, so be thankful. And The Roots, you know how it goes. You have the most musical rap album of them all by a mile, but as exceptional and classy as Undun was (one of 2011’s very best), it will come short. Sigh.
That leaves Nas, Drake, and Rick Ross. There are arguments for each of the three. I am going to eliminate Rick Ross. Why? This is his first personal nomination and he is not nominated for any performances surrounding God Forgives, I Don’t. Had there been more ‘support,’ I would’ve rolled with you. So I’m down to my homies Drake and Nas. Nas never wins and Drake didn’t win for Thank Me Later. Given the hype surrounding Take Care, including a prestigious POLARIS music prize nomination, I believe this is a lock for Drake to take home his first Grammy. And besides, we all know Take Care was better than Life Is Good.
The biggest surprise would be the omission of Nicki Minaj’s platinum selling Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. I could care less as I didn’t think it was one of the year’s best rap albums, but the argument could be made based on its commercial successes and it did have some bright spots. I think an argument could have been made for Young Jeezy’s TM103 as well as Kanye West’s Good Music Cruel Summer compilation. If you’re going to throw in compilations, what about MMG: Self Made 2. Better yet, what about Wale’s Ambition as “Lotus Flower Bomb” gets a nod? Overall though, I think this category is solid and expected.