Ah, more speculation about Grammy nominations! This go-round, how about a look at those urban categories? The frontrunners? Could it be D’Angelo, The Weeknd, and Kendrick Lamar?
Best R&B Performance
The Weeknd, “The Hills” (Beauty Behind The Madness)
D’Angelo, “Sugah Daddy” (Black Messiah)
Tyrese, “Shame” (Black Rose)
Miguel, “Coffee” (Wildheart)
Tamar Braxton, “If I Don’t Have You”
Mary J. Blige, “Whole Damn Year”
Mariah Carey, #1 to Infinity
Trey Songz, “About You”
The R&B categories of recent memory have been a bit, um, odd. Often times, there’s a mix of bigger names and the less heralded, which makes any of the categories more difficult to predict. It’s hard not see somebody from the aforementioned nominated, even if the particular performance may not be the one that honored. That said, Tyrese’s “Shame” feels like it should be a lock, as should “The Hills” by The Weeknd. Still, you never know.
Best Traditional R&B Performance
Charlie Wilson, “Touched By An Angel” (Forever Charlie)
Mary J. Blige, “Therapy” (The London Sessions)
Jill Scott, “You Don’t Know” (Woman)
The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” (Beauty Behind The Madness)
Jazmine Sullivan, “Forever Don’t Last” (Reality Show)
Aretha Franklin, “Rolling In the Deep (Aretha Version)” (Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics)
Raheem DeVaughn, “Queen”
Predicting Best Traditional R&B performance is even more difficult. It would be nice to see Charlie Wilson get a nomination for something from Forever Charlie – “Touched By An Angel” would be my pick. Mary J. Blige could land a more ‘soulful’ nomination for a performance from the underrated The London Sessions with “Therapy” being my pick. Jill Scott may miss R&B performance, but shouldn’t cover “You Don’t Know” get some love? Jazmine Sullivan could easily be in the Best R&B Performance, though “Forever Don’t Last” is soulful enough to qualify for the traditional category, assuming the song isn’t ignored. Aretha Franklin might be a lock – it is Aretha Franklin after all.
Best R&B Song
The Weeknd, “The Hills”
The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)”
D’Angelo, “Sugah Daddy”
Mary J. Blige, “Whole Damn Year” or “Therapy”
Charlie Wilson, “Touched By An Angel”
This is often a crapshoot. My guess is as good as yours or anybody else’s. A D’Angelo nod feels appropriate with most considering Black Messiah one of the best album’s of the year regardless of genre. The Weeknd seems like a must here, possibly with two songs pitted against one another. Miguel’s “Coffee” and Tyrese’s “Shame” also feel right. Still, predicting this category is a five-letter word that rhymes with “itch.”
Best Urban Contemporary Album
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind The Madness
K. Michelle, Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?
Jhené Aiko, Souled Out
Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show
The lines are blurred between R&B album and urban contemporary album. I tend to think of urban contemporary as being more modern. R&B album seems best reserved for more traditional albums. While that should be the thinking, it must be remembered that Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E. won Best R&B album and it was by no means traditional. Examining the list above, The Weeknd and Miguel standout. However, if given the opportunity, K. Michelle’s album is superb as is Jazmine Sullivan’s. Sullivan has a chance to be nominated for Best R&B album as Fearless was nominated in that category years back. As for Ne-Yo, personally I don’t think Non-Fiction is deserving, particularly compared to the great albums he’s released in the past, but he stands a good shot at a nomination.
Best R&B Album
D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
Tyrese, Black Rose
Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie
Jill Scott, Woman
Vivian Green, Vivid
Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions
Tamia, Love Life
Aretha Franklin, Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics
Stacy Barthe, BEcoming
There are a number of options for Best R&B album. That said, it would be a shame if D’Angelo isn’t a lock for a nomination here. Tyrese, Mary J. Blige, Charlie Wilson, and Jill Scott would also be top-notch choices. Vivian Green would be a great longshot nomination as Vivid was a terrific album, and it hasn’t been farfetched for underrated albums to find themselves nominated. The same might be said about underrated newbie Stacy Barthe. How much is Aretha Franklin’s album valued – that is the question! I wouldn’t pick it, but Aretha Franklin is a Grammy darling.
Best Rap Performance
Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta”
J. Cole, “Wet Dreamz”
Mac Miller, “100 Grandkids”
Ludacris, “Beast Mode”
Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
Here’s the thing about rap in late 2014/15. The albums themselves are arguably stronger than say individual performances in some cases. Kendrick Lamar definitely seems like a frontrunner, no matter which song from To Pimp A Butterfly gets the honors. A record like “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap could also get some love, even if it may not win when it comes down to it. This is wide open beyond a Kendrick Lamar nominated performance in my eyes.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
A$AP Rocky featuring Miguel, Rod Stewart “Everyday”
Wale featuring Usher, “The Matrimony”
Yelawolf featuring Eminem, “Best Friend”
Fifth Harmony featuring Kid Ink, “Worth It”
If Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” gets the nod here, watch out.
Best Rap Song
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
Wale, “The Matrimony”
Ludacris, “Beast Mode”
Wiz Khalifa, “See You Again”
This may be a more competitive category than the performance categories. The aforementioned list has some competitive choices. The Ludacris nod is an odd man out, but Ludacris has been successful in the rap category previously. Should he be nominated, wouldn’t “Beast Mode” be the particular song up for the honors?
Best Rap Album
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly
J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint
Drake, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Wale, The Album About Nothing
This is Kendrick’s to lose.