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THE GRAMMY WHISPERER RAPS ABOUT RAP

Hip-hop is the hottest genre in contemporary music, so it stands to reason that the rap categories in this year’s Grammy process are overflowing with strong potential nominees.

Two years ago, Kendrick Lamar won all four Grammys in the rap field. He was just the third artist to make a clean sweep of the rap awards. The first two were Eminem in 2000, when there were three rap categories, and Kanye West in 2011, when there were four.

Lamar may well repeat that feat this year. He’s the front-runner for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and is a serious contender for the fourth award, Best Rap/Sung Performance, for “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna.

BEST RAP ALBUM                                          

The six leading contenders all reached #1 on both the pop and rap charts. (The Grammys have had six nominees in this category—rather than the customary five—in three of the last five years.)

Kendrick Lamar is headed for his third nomination in this category with DAMN. It will be his third studio album in a row to be nominated; his second in a row to win. good kid, m.A.A.d. city lost here four years ago to Macklemore & Ryan LewisThe Heist. The Grammys would probably like a do-over on that one.

J. Cole may be headed for his second nom in this category for 4 Your Eyez Only. He was nominated two years ago for his last studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. 4 Your Eyez Only was nominated for Album of the Year at the BET Awards in June.

Jay-Z is vying for his 11th nom in the category with 4:44. Jay-Z has had more nominations in this category than anyone else, but he’s just won once, 19 years ago, for Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life.

DJ Khaled may be headed for his second nom in this category with Grateful. He was nominated last year for Major Key.

A Tribe Called Quest is looking for its third nom in this category for We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, their first studio album in 18 years (and apparently their last). It would be the group’s third studio album in a row to be nominated.

Future may be headed for his first nom in this category (if you can believe that) with FUTURE.

Other leading contenders

Among the many deserving albums that may be squeezed out in this category: Logic’s Everybody, MigosCulture, Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2, Big Sean’s I Decided., 2 ChainzPretty Girls Like Trap Music and Common’s Black America Again. (That would be a perfectly respectable list of nominees right there, yet, due to the fierce competition this year, most of these albums are unlikely to make it.)

Other albums under consideration include Lecrae’s All Things Work Together, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s The Bigger Artist, Jeezy’s Trap or Die 3, Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy, 21 Savage’s Issa Album, French Montana’s Jungle Rules, Kodak Black’s Painting Pictures, Machine Gun Kelly’s Bloom, Meek Mill’s Wins and Losses and Wale’s Shine.

Notes: There are 100 entries in this category this year, up from 86 last year. Post Malone’s Stoney and Future’s HNDRXX, both of which topped the rap album chart, are competing for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Drake didn’t submit his chart-topping “playlist album” More Life for Grammy consideration. (He has received five nominations for Best Rap Album, including one win.) The Grammys couldn’t find a genre album category for The Hamilton Mixtape, which topped the rap chart on its release. Travis Scott’s highly-regarded Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was entered in last year’s process, though its single “Goosebumps” is eligible this year.

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE

Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” This will almost certainly bring Lamar his third win in this category. He previously won for “i” and “Alright.” That would make him the first artist to win three times in this category since it was introduced in this form in 2011. The Jay-Z/Kanye West tandem won twice. This was a #1 hit on both the pop and rap charts. It was Lamar’s first #1 pop hit as a lead artist. It won Best Hip Hop Video at the BET Hip Hop Awards in October and was nominated for Single of the Year.

Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” (featuring Lil Uzi Vert). This was a #1 hit on both the pop and rap charts. This was a co-winner of Best Collaboration at the BET Awards in June. It was nominated for Single of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.” This was a #1 hit on both the pop and rap charts. It won Single of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards and was nominated for Best Hip Hop Video.

Future’s “Mask Off.” This was a Top 10 hit on both the pop and rap charts. It was nominated for Single of the Year and Best Hip Hop Video at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up” (featuring Nicki Minaj). This was a Top 10 hit on both the pop and rap charts. (Minaj has another potent collabo in the running—“No Frauds,” on which she teamed with Drake and Lil Wayne.)

Other leading contenders

Big Sean’s “Bounce Back,” J. Cole’s “4 Your Eyez Only,” Jay-Z’s “4:44,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “We the People…,” Tyler, the Creator’s “Who Dat Boy” (featuring A$AP Rocky), Common’s “Black America Again” (featuring Bilal), Ice Cube’s “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” Jay Hilfigerrr & Zaylon McCall’s “Juju on That Beat (TZ Anthem),” K’naan, Snow tha Product, Riz MC & Residente’s “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” 21 Savage’s “Bank Account,” Aminé’s “Caroline,” Post Malone’s “Patient,” Metro Boomin’s “No Complaints” (featuring Offset & Drake) and Nas’s “One Mic.”

Note: There are 124 entries in this category this year, up from 116 last year.

BEST RAP/SUNG PERFORMANCE

Last year, the Grammys changed Best Rap/Sung Collaboration to Best Rap/Sung Performance, which allowed individual artists, and not just collaborations, to compete in the category. Drake took the award for “Hotline Bling.” Several hits by individual artists are prime contenders this year as well.

Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3.” This was a Top 10 hit on both the pop and rap charts. Lil Uzi Vert performed this song in tandem with Ed Sheeran at the VMAs in August.

Kendrick Lamar’s “LOYALTY.” (featuring Rihanna). Lamar won in this category two years ago for “These Walls” (featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat). Rihanna is a four-time winner in the category (for “Umbrella,” “Run This Town,” “All of the Lights” and “The Monster”). Only Jay-Z has won more Grammys in this category (seven); Kanye West has also won four.

Post Malone’s “Congratulations” (featuring Quavo). This was a Top 10 hit on both the pop and rap charts. Post Malone’s subsequent hit, “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage), has been even more successful, reaching #1 on both the pop and rap charts, but it wasn’t entered. (Maybe they can sneak it past the Grammy gatekeepers next year, though it was released prior to the Sept. 30 cut-off for this year’s awards.)

SZA’s “Love Galore” (featuring Travis Scott). SZA’s debut album, Ctrl., is vying for Best Urban Contemporary Album and has a good chance of landing an Album of the Year nomination.

DJ Khaled’s “Shining” (featuring Beyoncé & Jay-Z). This was nominated for a BET award for Best Collaboration. Beyoncé & Jay-Z won in this category 14 years ago for “Crazy in Love.” The power couple has a second collaboration in contention—“Family Feud” (from 4:44). Both of these entries could easily make it.

French Montana’s “Unforgettable” (featuring Swae Lee). This was a #1 hit on the rap chart. The video was nominated for Best Hip Hop Video at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

Other leading contenders

The busy Lamar was featured on three other collabos that are entered here: The Weeknd’s “Sidewalks,” Travis Scott’s “Goosebumps” and Mike Will Made-It’s “Perfect Pint” (which also features Gucci Mane & Rae Sremmurd).

Also: Kyle’s “iSpy” (featuring Lil Yachty), Lecrae’s “Blessings” (featuring Ty Dolla $ign), Kodak Black’s “Tunnel Vision,” J. Cole’s “Change,” Mary J. Blige’s “Love Yourself” (featuring Kanye West) and Calvin Harris’ “Rollin” (featuring Future & Khalid).

Notes: There are 117 entries in this category this year, down from 124 last year. DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One” (featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne), which was #1 on both the pop and rap charts, is competing for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. His “Wild Thoughts” (featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller) is vying for Best R&B Performance.

BEST RAP SONG

The red-hot Metro Boomin could wind up with two or even three of this year’s nominations, thanks to such potent hits as “Bad and Boujee,” “Mask Off” and “Congratulations.”

“HUMBLE.” (co-written by Kendrick Lamar and Mike Will Made It). This will almost certainly bring Lamar his third win in this category. He previously won for “i” and “Alright.” That would enable him to tie Jay-Z for second place for most wins in the category’s history, which dates back to 2003. The leader is Kanye West, who has won here six times.

“Bad and Boujee” (co-written by the members of Migos, along with Lil Uzi Vert, Metro Boomin and Robert Mandell).

“XO Tour Llif 3” (co-written by Lil Uzi Vert, TM88 and J.W. Lucas). Lil Uzi Vert may have two of the nominations, with this song and “Bad and Boujee.”

“The Story of O.J.” (co-written by Jay-Z and No I.D.). This won Impact Track at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Jay-Z’s three wins in this category are for co-writing “Run This Town,” “Empire State of Mind” and “Ni**as in Paris.”

“Mask Off” (co-written by Future, Metro Boomin and Tommy Butler).

“Congratulations” (co-written by Post Malone, Quavo, Frank Dukes, Metro Boomin, Louis Bell, Austin Rosen). Quavo may have two of the nominations, with this song and “Bad and Boujee.”

“We the People…” (co-written by Q-Tip and Phife Dawg). A Tribe Called Quest performed this song and two others on the Grammy telecast in February.

Other leading contenders

“Who Dat Boy” (written by Tyler, the Creator), “Blessings” (co-written by Lecrae, Ty Dolla $ign, Swoope, Verse Simmonds, Asheton Hogan), “4 Your Eyez Only” (written by J. Cole), “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” (co-written by K’naan, Riz MC, Residente, Claudio Feliciano, Jeffrey Penalva), “Good Cop, Bad Cop” (written by Ice Cube), “Bodak Yellow” (written by Klenord Raphael, Shaftizm, Jordan Thorpe, Washpoppin & J White), “iSpy” (co-written by Kyle, Lil Yachty, Justin Howze, Malik Keith), “Juju on that Beat (TZ Anthem)”(co-written by Jay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall), “Bank Account” (written by 21 Savage), “Caroline” (co-written by Aminé, Irvin Mejia), “Tunnel Vision” (co-written by Kodak Black, Metro Boomin, Southside, Kevin Gomringer, Tim Gomringer), “Bounce Back (co-written by Big Sean, Jeremih, Yung Berg, Metro Boomin, Samuel David Jimenez, Amaire Johnson & Kanye West).

Note: There are 162 entries in this category this year, up slightly from 160 last year.

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