Grammy cliffhanger: Will Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ be rare rap winner of Album of the Year?

grammy awards kendrick lamar to pimp a butterfly rap hip-hop

The Grammys have shown a longstanding bias against rap and hip-hop. True, artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z and Eminem have more than a dozen trophies apiece, but those are almost entirely in genre categories. When hip-hop faces off against all other artists in the four general-field races (Album, Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist), it almost never wins. Click here to visit our forums now to join our discussion.

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To date, only one rap album has ever won Album of the Year: “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” by the duo OutKast in 2003. Before that Lauryn Hill‘s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” won for its blend of hip-hop and R&B in 1998. But there’s a possibility that Kendrick Lamar can overcome that bias this year. In March he released his third album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” to his best reviews yet. With a score of 96 on MetaCritic, it’s one of the year’s most acclaimed albums of any genre.

It’s also a hit, certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for its sales in the US so far. If that’s not enough to overcome the recording academy’s usual aversion to hip-hop, the Grammys may also want to make it up to him after he notoriously lost all seven of his nominations in 2013 for his breakthrough album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” including four losses to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis‘s more pop-friendly brand of hip-hop.

The Grammys already played catch up with Lamar by awarding him Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song last year for “I,” but this will give voters a second chance to award him Album of the Year, especially if they think it’s too soon to give Taylor Swift her second win in that category for her blockbuster hit “1989.”

We’ll be opening our Grammy predictions soon so you can make your own picks for nominations in the general field, but until then our forum posters are already discussing this year’s contest. Read some of their comments below, and click here to join the debate.

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st_jimmy: It’s a weak year. If it’s not [Lamar], will it be Taylor? Outside of those two it’s hard to see anyone else winning, unless an acclaimed veteran gets in.

PoweR: As much as I want K. Dot to get it, Taylor appeals to a much wider branch. With Ryan Adams covering her album and the whole industry going bananas over her “fight” for artists getting paid, that should be enough to get her another Album of the Year win. Kendrick definitely deserves it more than anyone, and hopefully, the voters surprise me this year. As long as he’s nominated and takes home something, I’m good.

Final2: Taylor deserves AOTY with “1989,” but I don’t think she’ll get it. I can fully see Kendrick winning this year.

TerenceFletcher: I won’t believe Kendrick winning anything in the general field until it happens.

RinoloTwenty-two: I don’t see Kendrick winning, it will be nominated, but [Alabama Shakes‘s] “Sound and Color” and [D’Angelo‘s] “Black Messiah” fit more the criteria, so for me those are the frontrunners.

Photo: Kendrick Lamar. Credit: Matt Baron/BEI/REX

Photo: “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Credit: Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope

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