Kendrick Lamar is nominated for Best Rap Performance at the Grammys for the second year in a row, for “I,” the lead single from his upcoming third studio album. Can he win? Grammy voters may wish to make it up to him after controversially snubbing him last year.
Lamar entered last year’s Grammys with tremendous critical acclaim: his album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” scored 91 on Metacritic and earned him seven nominations, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist, but he was shut out in all of his races, losing every rap category to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
The recording academy received widespread criticism for picking the pop-infused Macklemore over Lamar’s acclaimed hip-hop, and Macklemore himself stoked the flames by publicizing a text message he sent to Lamar, admitting that Lamar should have won Rap Album instead.
The recording academy may be especially conscious of last year’s outcomes because this year Lamar faces Eminem, who like Macklemore is a white artist who has been criticized for appropriating hip-hop music.
Eminem is nominated for “Rap God,” and the title is apt. He’s a 13-time Grammy winner, and all but one of those victories were in rap categories. That includes three wins for Best Rap Solo Performance, one for Male Rap Solo Performance, and two for Rap Duo/Group. Is he too much of a Grammy-darling for Lamar to overtake?
This is only Eminem’s second nomination for Best Rap Performance. The current category was created in 2011, combining the previous awards for solo artists and duos/groups, but he held the record for most nominations (eight) and most wins (four) in solo categories. He’s so admired by the recording academy that even though he’s primarily a solo artist, he was also one of the most honored artists in the duo/group contest: his two wins in that field came from four nominations.
Lamar and Eminem are up against Drake, who did won a Grammy for Best Rap Album (“Take Care,” 2012), but has had no luck in performance categories. He has been nominated six years in a row – Rap Performance for the last four years, and Rap Solo Performance for the two years before that, as well as one Rap Duo/Group bid in 2010 – but he hasn’t won any of them. This year, he contends for “0 to 100 / The Catch Up” from his upcoming album “Views from the 6.”
Childish Gambino is nominated for the first time, for the song “3005” from his album “Because the Internet,” which is up for Best Rap Album. “Internet” is the second studio album by Childish Gambino, which is the stage name of Donald Glover, the actor best known for the sitcom “Community.”
Rounding out the category is Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae, who is nominated for the first time in this category for “All I Need Is You,” but he’s no stranger to the Grammys. He previously won Best Gospel Album in 2012 for “Gravity.” Will he stand out enough in this category to pull off an upset?
Who do you think will win? Use our drag-and-drop menu below to make your predictions, or click here to make your picks in other top Grammy categories.