Can newcomer Nicki Minaj take the Grammy for Best Rap Album on her first try? After all, three of her rival nominees — Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne — each won with their first bids. Her disc “Pink Friday” topped the Billboard albums chart and sold more than 1.6 million copies in the United States. It included the smash hit singles “Super Bass” and “Moment 4 Life.” And Minaj is also contending for Best New Artist. However, no solo female act has taken this prize in its 16-year history.
West picked up his fourth and fifth Best Rap Album bids for his solo effort “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “Watch the Throne” with Jay-Z. He won each of his three previous races: “The College Dropout” (2004), “Late Registration” (2005), and “Graduation” (2007). The epic and acclaimed “Twisted Fantasy” features hits like Song of the Year nominee “All of the Lights.”
With “Watch the Throne,” Jay-Z earned his eighth nod. However, he has won just once with his first bid in 1998 for “Vol. 2 … Hard Knock Life.” This new disc went platinum and produced the hit singles “Otis” and “H.A.M.”
Lil Wayne won his only entry in this race when “Tha Carter III” prevailed in 2008. That disc’s follow-up, “Tha Carter IV,” includes guest artists Drake, T-Pain and John Legend. Successful singles like “How to Love,” “She Will” and “6 foot 7 Foot” could make it a surprise winner.
Lupe Fiasco competes in this category for a third time with “Lasers.” His two previous releases –“The Cool” (2008) and “Food & Liquor” (2006) — were also nominated. While the hugely popular single “The Show Goes On” could win him a few votes, he is likely to be an also-ran again.