The Winners & Losers of Rap’s 2018 GRAMMY Nominations

By | Posted November 28, 2017
Surprise! The GRAMMYs (mostly) got it right this year!
2017-11-28-winners-losers-grammy-nominations-2018
Photo Credit: Dan Garcia

Well, I'll be damned. The GRAMMYs (mostly) got it right.

On Tuesday, the Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards, which will take place at New York's Madison Square Garden on Sunday, January 28, 2018, and unlike in previous years—read: all of them—they don't suck.

Whereas last year the Big Three categories—Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year—were light on hip-hop, this year those same categories are hip-hop-heavy. Leading the pack is JAY-Z, who scored eight nominations, followed by Kendrick Lamar (7), Bruno Mars (6), Childish Gambino (5), Khalid (5), No I.D. (5), and SZA (5). According to a press release sent by the Recording Academy, more than 22,000 submissions were received across the GRAMMY's 84 award categories.

Let’s take a look at all the rap-heavy categories (many of which sadly won’t be televised) and break down the winners and losers of each category.

Album of the Year

  • "Awaken, My Love" — Childish Gambino
  • 4:44 — JAY-Z 
  • DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
  • Melodrama — Lorde
  • 24k Magic — Bruno Mars

Winner: Childish Gambino. He's already taken home two Emmy's (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series) and two Golden Globe awards (Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy, Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy) in 2017 for his work on his hit TV show Atlanta and now he earns his first-ever Album of the Year nomination. Gambino was previously nominated for two GRAMMY awards in 2015 (Because the Internet for Best Rap Album and "3005" for Best Rap Performance).

Loser: SZA. Considering she picked up five total nominations, it's hard to label SZA as a loser, but her 2017 debut, Ctrl, was more than deserving of the GRAMMYs top honor. It would have been incredible to see two under-30 solo female artists both nominated in this category. 

Best Rap Album

  • 4:44 — JAY-Z
  • DAMN. — Kendrick Lamar
  • Culture — Migos
  • Laila's Wisdom — Rapsody
  • Flower Boy — Tyler, The Creator

Winners: Rapsody and Tyler, The Creator. JAY-Z and Kendrick have been to the dance before and Migos was a shoe-in thanks to their 2017 takeover, but it's hard to imagine that even the artists themselves believed the GRAMMYs would give them a nod here. It wouldn't be fair to either artist to label their nomination as a "surprise," especially since both albums represent the best body of work each artist has released to date, so we'll go with "happily unexpected." 

Losers: A Tribe Called Quest. Assuming it was one of the 22,000 submissions received during the eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2016–Sept. 30, 2017), Tribe's acclaimed 2016 album, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service, was absolutely deserving of a nod. As were Vince Staples' Big Fish Theory and Future's FUTURE.

Best Urban Contemporary Album

  • "Awaken, My Love" — Childish Gambino
  • Ctrl — SZA
  • American Teen — Khalid
  • Starboy — The Weeknd
  • FREE 6LACK — 6LACK

Winners: SZA. Anyone who followed SZA's career for the past half-decade knew she was capable of greatness, it was just a matter of patience—both for SZA and her fans. That patience was rewarded in 2017 with the release of Ctrl, a debut album that is in the lead position to take home Best Urban Contemporary Album and could have easily found its way into the five-pack of nominees for Album of the Year.

Losers: Sampha. After coming up empty in the Album of The Year category, Sampha's absence in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category is criminal. The Weeknd's Starboy is the sexy, A-list star selection and 6LACK delivered a solid debut—which he calls a "mixtape," whatever that means these days—but Sampha's Process was more impressive than both.

Best Rap Performance

  • Big Sean — "Bounce Back"
  • Cardi B — "Bodak Yellow"
  • JAY-Z — "4:44"
  • Kendrick Lamar — "HUMBLE."
  • Migos — "Bad and Boujee"

Winners: Cardi B. To be clear, there is no way she's actually going to win a GRAMMY for "Best Rap Performance," not when she's in a category next to JAY-Z and Kendrick Lamar, but just being nominated here is a win in and of itself. After a breakout campaign in 2017, this 2018 GRAMMY nod will ensure Cardi's insta-success continues and, assuming Atlantic Records plays their cards right, should help create additional buzz for her forthcoming debut.

Losers: Migos. "Bad and Boujee" was a bigger hit than "HUMBLE." and "4:44" combined, but it's hard to see Migos taking home three gilded gramophones when their competition is Hov and Kendrick. If they somehow pull out a victory, I'll print out this article and eat it for breakfast. 

Best Rap/Sung Performance

  • JAY-Z — "Family Feud ft. Beyoncé"
  • Kendrick Lamar  — "LOYALTY. ft. Rihanna"
  • SZA — "Love Galore ft. Travis Scott"
  • 6LACK — "PRBLMS"
  • GoldLink — "Crew ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy"

Winners: GoldLink. This man has one hit record to his name and that hit record is "Crew." From radio to on-demand streaming, "Crew" has been inescapable in 2017, but what makes the DMV native's first GRAMMY nomination so exciting is that it required patience. Unlike Kendrick's "LOYALTY," which was a guaranteed smash thanks to Rihanna's guest work and it's album home (DAMN.), and SZA's "Love Galore," which benefitted from a Travis Scott assist and a memorable music video, Link's breakout single didn't immediately catch fire. It took "Crew," which was released on December 16, 2016, nine months to earn a Platinum certification and 11 months to reach No. 1 at Urban Radio. Good things come to those who wait, amirite?

Losers: Calvin Harris and Logic. "Slide," Harris' hit single featuring Frank Ocean and Migos, was as deserving as any of the above nominees. In order to make room for "Slide," I would have bumped Jay ("Family Feud"). With a whopping eight nominations for 2018, bringing his grand total to 74 all-time (he has won 21 times), it's unlikely anyone, Jay included, would be up in arms.

In Logic's case, while the Def Jam MC did score a pair of GRAMMY nominations (Song of the Year, Music Video of the Year), his breakout hit, "1-800-273-8255," didn't earn him and guests Khalid and Alessia Cara a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance. Given the song's profound impact on suicide awareness, though, Logic was already a winner long before the nominations were announced earlier today.

Best Rap Song

  • Cardi B — "Bodak Yellow
  • Kendrick Lamar — "HUMBLE"
  • JAY-Z — "The Story of O.J."
  • Danger Mouse — "Chase Me ft. Run The Jewels & Big Boi"
  • Rapsody — "Sassy"

Winners: Danger Mouse. Who saw this one coming? In addition to giving Killer Mike and El-P of Run The Jewels a nomination (their first as a duo), the Best Rap Song nod gives Danger Mouse his 10th total nomination. 

Losers: Rae Sremmurd. "Black Beatles," the Gucci Mane-assisted, Mike WiLL Made-It-produced single was a viral sensation, cultural phenomenon and, along with Best Rap Song nominees "HUMBLE." and "Bodak Yellow," was the No. 1 song in the country. 

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