Can Kanye West overcome controversy to make a Grammy comeback for Best Rap Album?

The winners of the Grammy for Best Rap Album are an exclusive group of all-time greats. Eminem leads the category with six wins but megastars like Kanye West, Jay Z, OutKast, Lil Wayne and recently Kendrick Lamar fill out much of the category’s history. It looks like this year will be no different as hip hop’s biggest names compete for the 2017 title. Whether the winner is a new breakout name or a towering legend, this year’s champion will blend in with the existing roster of superstars.

Or maybe a previous superstar will simply win again. We’ve considered the frontrunners in this category, Drake and Chance the Rapper. Now let’s consider the race’s most controversial contender:

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KANYE WEST, “THE LIFE OF PABLO”

WHY HE’LL WIN: He has history on his side
Chance the Rapper, De La Soul, DJ Khaled, and Schoolboy Q have never won a Grammy as a lead artist. Drake won once (Best Rap Album, 2013). Meanwhile, Kanye West has won 21 Grammys, four of which were in this category. Those are impressive stats and they may be insurmountable for his competition. As one of the most impactful hip-hop artists of all time, a win for “The Life of Pablo” might have more meaning than a victory for a newer artist like Chance or Schoolboy Q. And it could double as a sign of support after a particularly tumultuous year for Mr. West.

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WHY HE WON’T WIN: Kanye’s career has been an emotional roller coaster, but 2016 featured more dips than normal
By most accounts, “The Life of Pablo” was a hit. It debuted in spectacular, if chaotic fashion, with a premiere at Madison Square Garden and a memorable pair of “SNL” performances. Streams have been sky-high and Kanye put on the most impressive tour of the year. The album’s singles and videos had everyone talking, and it has culminated in Kanye receiving eight Grammy nominations. But as has been the case with Kanye before, voters may get cold feet due to his personal life getting in the way. Twitter wars and a sudden cancellation of the aforementioned tour could distract voters from the achievements of his seventh album. After all, despite his incredible career and Grammy history, the one album of his to miss out on a Rap Album nomination was 2008’s “808s & Heartbreak” in the wake of the original Taylor Swift VMA controversy in which he interrupted her acceptance speech to protest Beyonce‘s loss.

Make your Grammy predictions now; change them till Feb. 12

Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts as often as you like before winner are announced on Feb. 12.  Just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate, bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Our racetrack odds change as you make your predictions, just as they do when you bet on the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes and more. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the Grammy race in our music forum.

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