Grammys 2017: Thoughts and Predictions for the Hip Hop Categories

Earlier today the nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards were announced, including the four Hip Hop categories – Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Album. I absolutely cannot make clear distinctions between the first three as their titles just seem be slight variations of one-another. Looking at the nominated songs, it makes it even more difficult to differentiate what seperates those initial three categories. You could swap in and out songs amongst them and it wouldn’t make much difference, though I’m glad that Best Rap Album is still its own category, and hasn’t been split into needless sub-categories… yet. Anyway, here are my thoughts and predictions for each Hip Hop category.

Best Rap Performance

Chance the Rapper ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz – “No Problem”

Desiigner – “Panda”

Drake ft. The Throne – “Pop Style”

Fat Joe & Remy Ma ft. French Montana & Infared – “All The Way Up”

ScHoolboy Q ft. Kanye West – “THat Part”

Likely winner: “Panda” or “Pop Style”

Karl’s pick: “No Problem”

“Panda” was undoubtedly one of the biggest hip hop tracks this year, whether you hate it or not, and “Pop Style” performed well on the charts, though I’m surprised it was picked over the likes of “One Dance” and “Controlla”, both of which had a lot more radio play. I’d love to see Chance snatch the Grammy, and he has a decent shot at it, but given its limited chart success I’d say it’s unlikely. Likewise, it’s pleasing to see ScHoolboy Q nominated here, but if any version of “THat Part” is to get the nod, it has to be the Black Hippy remix. Sorry Kanye.

Best Rap/Sung Performance

Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom”

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty – “Broccoli”

Kanye West ft. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream – “Ultralight Beam”

Kanye West ft. Rihanna – “Famous”

Likely winner: “Freedom”

Karl’s pick: “Ultralight Beam”

Beyoncé is up for 9 Grammys, and this is one of the categories where she’s almost certain to win. “Hotline Bling” would be the closest competitor, but as a late nomination (it was eligible to be nominated last year but strangely wasn’t) it would be a bit odd if it won. For some reason Kanye is nominated twice in this category, which is equally odd. “Ultralight Beam” is my favourite out of the five, but I don’t see it winning. It’s also ironic that D.R.A.M. is nominated in a category alongside “Hotline Bling” given that it was derived from his song “Cha Cha”. The best part about this category though is the inclusion of Lil Yachty, a guy who only started his career a year ago and is already getting Grammy nods.

Best Rap Song

Fat Joe & Remy Ma ft. French Montana & Infared – “All The Way Up”

Kanye West ft. Rihanna – “Famous”

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

Chance the Rapper ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz – “No Problem”

Kanye West ft. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream – “Ultralight Beam”

Likely winner: “Hotline Bling”

Karl’s pick: “No Problem”

Uhhh… this just looks like the nominees from the previous two categories combined. I suppose this would be the category for “Hotline Bling” to win, even if it is a late nomination. Once again Kanye is nominated twice, which absolutely baffles me – were the judges even paying attention to hip hop this year? There have been an abundance of quality hip hop songs in 2016, and doubling up on one artist is absolutely ridiculous. If Chance misses out on Best Rap Performance I’d like to see him make that snatch here.

Best Rap Album

Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book

De La Soul – And the Anonymous Nobody

DJ Khaled – Major Key

Drake – Views

ScHoolboy Q – Blank Face LP

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Likely winner: Views

Karl’s pick: The Life of Pablo

An interesting selection of nominees – only one out of the six are in my top 10 Hip Hop albums this year, and that’s The Life of Pablo. Tribe’s album missed the deadline, but I’m disappointed that the likes of YG’s Still Brazy, Noname’s Telefone, Denzel Curry’s Imperial, Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered, Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition and Young Thug’s JEFFERY were excluded. Coloring Book would make history if it were to win, being a free digital release, but Views had the most commercial success out of the bunch and was one of the biggest albums of the year. Major Key is the weirdest inclusion of them all, I can only deduce that DJ Khaled was nominated purely for the potential high ratings due to his celebrity social media status.

Overall, I’m glad that artists like Chance, D.R.A.M., Lil Yachty and ScHoolboy Q were nominated, but like with every Grammys, it’s almost defined moreso by the artists that are excluded rather than included. I would love to see Chance run away with several Grammys (he’s nominated in seven categories) just as Kendrick did earlier this year, but Coloring Book is a tough sell against the chart success and ubiquity of Views, bloated as the latter may be. And even though A Tribe Called Quest missed the deadline for next year’s awards, their Native Tongues brethren De La Soul are up for Rap Album of the Year which makes me incredibly happy, unlikely as they are to win. I’ll be gunning for Chance just as I was for Kendrick, but once again I’ll have to tell myself not to care too much, regardless of what happens.

-Karl

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