2018 Grammy predictions: Will Jay-Z (‘4:44’) put pressure on Kendrick Lamar (‘Damn’) for Best Rap Album?

If you’re like me you were looking forward to forecasting the rap categories at the Grammys so you could mark Kendrick Lamar‘s name in every race and rack up easy points in our predictions contest. He was the Album of the Year frontrunner for “Damn” after all. But then the recording academy surprised us by giving Jay-Z (“4:44“) far more love than we expected — more love than any other artist in fact with eight nominations including Album, Record, and Song of the Year. Suddenly the race for Best Rap Album looks a lot closer than we might have previously thought.

Lamar is nominated for the third time. He contended for the first time for “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” in 2014 but controversially lost to “The Heist” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. But Lamar won his next bid for “To Pimp a Butterfly” in 2016, and he’s won almost every rap category he’s been nominated in since 2015. He also has the most acclaimed album in this category — and the most acclaimed album of the year based on MetaCritic, where “Damn” scored 95.

But Jay-Z is the most nominated artist in the history of this category with 11 bids, but despite being tied with Kanye West as the most awarded rap artist overall in Grammy history (21 victories) he has only ever won this award once. He claimed Best Rap Album on his first try, for “Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life” in 1999. That was followed by nine losses, so voters may consider him due for more recognition. And considering how handsomely they rewarded him in the nominations they may be prepared to hand him his first award in 19 years in this race.

It may be difficult for the remaining nominees to keep up with Lamar and Jay-Z. Migos enjoyed great success with their second studio album “Culture,” which went platinum largely on the strength of their number-one hit “Bad and Boujee,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Performance. But these are their only two nominations this year. Rapsody also has two nominations: in this category for her second studio album “Laila’s Wisdom” and Best Rap Song for “Sassy.” And Tyler the Creator is nominated for his fourth album “Flower Boy” on his only nomination. Is there a chance for any of them to upset the two juggernauts in this race?

Be sure to make your Grammy predictions so that Hollywood record executives and top name stars can see how their songs and albums are faring in our Grammy odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on January 28. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Grammys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our music forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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