Toni Braxton and Babyface are both multiple Grammy winners – she has six trophies, and he has nine, mostly for their work during the heights of their careers in the 1990s – but perhaps surprisingly, neither has won Best R&B Album. They teamed up last year for “Love, Marriage, and Divorce,” which is the second nomination in the category for both of them. Can they win it for the first time?
In most genre categories, you can find a frontrunner by identifying the Album of the Year nominee in the bunch; nominees in the general-field usually have enough support to win their genre awards. But that’s not possible for R&B Album; none of this year’s nominees are up for Album of the Year. In fact, no R&B Album contender has competed for Album of the Year since Alicia Keys‘s “The Diary of Alicia Keys” in 2004.
That may be partly because the category was split in 2002, and Best Contemporary R&B Album was established for works with modern hip-hop influences. The hit-makers who most often end up in the Grammys’ top races – like Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and Usher – mostly ended up there, while this race was reserved for more traditional R&B recordings.
The contemporary category is now known as Best Urban Contemporary Album, and two of this year’s nominees for that award – Beyonce’s eponymous record and Pharrell Williams‘s “GIRL” – are indeed also nominated for Album of the Year.
Having those two out of the way is certainly good news for Babyface and Braxton, as is the fact that they have the strongest name-recognition in the category, which never hurts. Well-known acts like Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell, Chris Brown, John Legend, and Keys have won this race in recent years.
But then there’s the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper won this race in 2012 for “Black Radio,” defeating stars Tyrese and R. Kelly. He’s back with his follow-up, “Black Radio 2.” And he’s the only artist in this race with any other nominations: he’s also up for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Jesus Children.” Can he upset the R&B legends?
The other three nominees are new to the race. Relative newcomer Aloe Blacc competes for “Lift Your Spirit,” his third studio album. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are up for “Give the People What They Want.” And Norwegian singer Bernhoft is nominated for “Islander“; Bernhoft is actually the first non-American artist to contend in this race.
Will Braxton and Babyface win this award for the first time, or will the Robert Glasper Experiment prevail again for his “Black Radio” sequel? Perhaps one of their rookie rivals will surprise them. Use our drag-and-drop menu below to make your predictions, or click here to make your picks in other top Grammy categories, with more categories soon to come.