The 61st Grammy Awards nominations have been announced, and there is plenty to talk about for Rap and Hip-Hop fans. The affair will take place February 10, 2019, returning the event to Los Angeles, California’s Staples Center after a New York City ceremony earlier this year.
While Top Dawg and his artists are regularly court-side at the Staples Center for L.A. Lakers and Clippers games, it is presumed they will have seats even closer to the action next February. The label’s commanding 2018 is on strong display through eight Kendrick Lamar nominations, four of which he shares with SZA. Jay Rock also scored three nominations in a banner year for the Watts, California MC.
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TDE’s Black Panther soundtrack is nominated for “Album Of The Year,” as is Drake’s Scorpion, Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy, Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys. Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, H.E.R.’s eponymous 2017 LP, Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour, and Brandi Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You.
Kendrick Lamar, who has not won despite three previous nominations in the category, could potentially win the trophy with Top Dawg by way of a soundtrack. Drake has also not won this category in the past, despite a nomination. With her first major label album, Cardi could potentially beat both peers to the trophy. Post Malone, a Pop superstar who has artistically blurred the lines between Rap and Rock, burst onto the scene with “White Iverson,” a Rap record. Despite those roots, in late 2017, he told Poland’s NewsOnce, “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to Hip-Hop.” He added, “There’s great Hip-Hop songs where they talk about life and they spit that real sh*t, but right now, there’s not a lot of people talking about real sh*t.” The 23-year-old Grapevine, Texas representative has also claimed that he has experienced hardships due to his white skin in the Rap space. His sophomore LP went to #1 this April, and he is also nominated in several “Pop” categories, as is Cardi.
While history suggests this award often leans out of the Rap and R&B categories (and potentially into the hands of Musgraves or Carlile), a win for Black Panther would honor a cross-section of Rap on a compilation that includes Vince Staples, REASON, Mozzy, ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Ab-Soul, SOB x RBE, and others in the highest category.
Back in the TDE circle, Kendrick Lamar & SZA’s “All Of The Stars” competes in the “Record Of The Year” category. There, they take on Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover’s) “This Is America,” Drake’s “God’s Plan,” Post Malone & 21 Savage’s “Rockstar,” as well as Cardi B’s “I Like It,” Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke,” and Zedd’s “The Middle.” Last year Glover was nominated for “Album Of The Year” and “Record Of The Year,” without a subsequent win.
Drake, K-Dot & SZA, and Donald Glover’s respective songs are each up for “Song Of The Year” too, where Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” is one of the entrees that joins the competition, as well as Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, Shawn Mendes, and Carlile.
Mac Miller’s Swimming is nominated for “Best Rap Album.” For the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania MC/producer who died in September of a drug overdose shortly after the release, it is his first such honor from the academy. Pusha-T’s DAYTONA earns him his first solo nomination of any kind, in the same category. Two times in the past the Virginia MC was considered for trophies, first alongside Justin Timberlake (with No Malice) and another with his G.O.O.D. Music family. Should both attend the ceremony, the event places Drake and Pusha in the same room since their beef came to a boil in 2018. Another G.O.O.D. affiliate, Travis Scott, is nominated for his #1 LP, ASTROWORLD. This marks another first for the Houston, Texas rapper/singer. Nipsey Hussle joins the category nominations with Victory Lap, his debut album. This is a big recognition for a Crenshaw rapper known for dominating the mixtape arena for the last dozen-plus years. Nipsey’s Atlantic Records label-mate Cardi B is also nominated for her #1 major label debut. Last year, the Bronx, New Yorker was twice nominated without a win. Although J. Cole produced on Mac’s album, his K.O.D. appears to be one of the biggest omissions in the 2019 Grammy Awards nominations.
For “Best Rap Song,” there are other firsts. TDE member Jay Rock is nominated twice in the category. His “King’s Dead” collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, Future, and James Blake is included, as is his solo single “Win.” Drake receives dual nominations through “God’s Plan” and his appearance on Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” The latter song features Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd as well as late Screwed Up Click member Big H.A.W.K., who is mentioned on the nomination. Notably, the Houston, Texas underground legend died more than a dozen years ago. Joyner Lucas gets his first look in the category, thanks to a feature role on Eminem’s “Lucky You.”
For “Best Rap Performance,” “Sicko Mode” and “King’s Dead” join three other songs. Cardi B’s relationship anthem “Be Careful” is there, a song Anderson .Paak did not include on OXNARD, “Bubblin’” gets the nod, as does Drake’s blend of Bounce and Lauryn Hill samples, “Nice For What.”
“Producer Of The Year” includes Kanye West, who was at the helm for five albums in consecutive weeks this summer. He will compete against longtime associate Pharrell Williams and Toronto representative, Boi-1a. For ‘Ye and 1-da, it marks another symbolic match-up between the G.O.O.D. Music and OVO camps, as the latter worked extensively on Scorpion.
In the “Best Rap/Sung Performance” category, Kendrick and SZA’s “All The Stars,” Glover’s “This Is America,” and Post Malone’s “Rockstar” see additional nods, as does Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.” 6LACK & J. Cole’s “Pretty Little Liars” and Christina Aguilera & Goldlink’s “Like I Do” joins the fold.
Elsewhere on the board, JAY-Z and Beyoncé’s collaborative EVERYTHING IS LOVE album (as “The Carters”) is nominated under “Best Urban Contemporary Album,” “Best R&B Performance” for “Summer,” and “Best Music Video” for “Apesh*t.”
That music video category also features two provocative Rap inclusions, Gambino’s “This Is America” and Joyner Lucas’ “I’m Not A Racist.” On a related note, Glover’s “Feels Like Summer” is included in the “Best R&B Song” category
Previous winner Questlove of The Roots is nominated for “Best Spoken World” album for his Creative Quest. He will compete against Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn, among others.
No Rap artists are included in the “Best New Artist” running this year, although Jorja Smith and H.E.R. are acknowledged. Chris Dave & The Drumhedz’ eponymous LP which features Phonte, Elzhi, SiR, Anderson .Paak, Shafiq Husyn and others will compete against The Carters and Miguel for “Best Urban Contemporary Album.” SZA and Kenny’s “All The Stars” can also win in the “Best Song Written For Visual Media” category.
The 2019 Grammy Awards broadcasts live on February 10, 2019.