Kendrick Lamar Leads the 2016 Grammys Nominations (Complete List of Nominees)

K. Dot racks up 11 nominations including the Album of the Year.
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K. Dot racks up 11 nominations including the Album of the Year.

It looks like the Grammys are looking to make up with Kendrick Lamar.

The annual award show announced their nominations for the 2016 edition this morning and the To Pimp A Butterfly rapper led all nominees with 11. The next closest was Taylor Swift and The Weeknd at 7. Picking up nominations for Album of the Year and Song of the Year among others, Lamar also finds himself in new territory after getting nods for his collaboration, "Bad Blood" with Swift which is one of the songs up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance while his work with Flying Lotus on "Never Catch Me" in competition for Best Dance Recording. It's welcome news after the comedy of errors which saw Lamar's Good Kid M.A.A.D. Cityget snubbed in favor of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' The Heist and sets the L.A. rapper up for what could be one of the more memorable runs by a rapper in recent memory. Here's a look at some of the other crucial categories:

Album of the Year

  • Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color
  • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Taylor Swift, 1989
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

No real surprises here. Kendrick is due at least the look here for his effort on TPAB and the cultural resonance that album had across the country. It'll be culture vs. the numbers though as Taylor Swift's 1989 has sold albums in historical fashion since being released, a feat only trumped by Adele's recent rollout. The Weeknd gets a well-deserved look as well for his Beauty Behind The Madness and honestly would be a frontrunner here if the award were given in a different context. For now though, this is a two horse race with four entrants.

Song of the Year

  • Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
  • Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"
  • Little Big Town, "Girl Crush"
  • Wiz Kahifa feat. Charlie Puth, "See You Again"
  • Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"

Once again, Kendrick appears as a frontrunner here, undercut only by the sheer commercial power of Swift. "Alright" emerged from a largely single-less album to become the rallying cry of protests across the country and easily should prove to be one of the most memorable rap songs not made by Future or Drake in 2015. For his part, Wiz Khalifa pops up on this list for his single off the Fast & The Furious 7 soundtrack, "See You Again" featuring Charlie Puth which took on further meaning with the passing of Paul Walker and became the first rap video on YouTube with over 1 billion views. While Ed Sheeran and Little Big Town might feel good about this one, it seems to be similar to Album of the Year in its polarity.

Best Urban Contemporary Album

  • The Internet, Ego Death
  • Kehlani, You Should Be Here
  • Lianne La Havas, Blood
  • Miguel, Wildheart
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Easily one of the more welcome categories for anyone who gets their music tastes from the web, the Best Urban Contemporary Album nominees include newcomer Kehlani, fresh veterans The Internet and heavyhitter big names like Miguel and The Weeknd for what is perhaps the most cross-industry nominations of the night. In a sort of look toward the future, The Internet and Kehlani seem to be a bit out of their league here as Miguel and The Weeknd put out albums that have been regarded as the year's best in or out of the specifics. Still, it would be very dope to see Syd and the gang pick up a gold statue.

Best Rap Album

J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Dr. Dre, Compton
Drake, If Youre Reading This Its Too Late
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint

Compton? Really? I don't know anyone who's still listening to this album a few months later. Nonetheless, it ends up on this list because Dre has a stake in Apple Music and more money and fame than most others. The rest of the list here is pretty solid, except WHERE IS VINCE STAPLES? Dude put out what has widely been considered one of the year's best hip-hop albums and I would personally put it over Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late and Compton. Really though, how can you take an old man's view of his neighborhood in California over the kid who's actually there telling the stories from where they take place? I digress. While TPAB is probably deserving of this one, it could easily end up as a toss-up with Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive making big waves this year and the 6ix God and Nicki's command of the radio. 

Best Rap Performance

  • J. Cole, "Apparently"
  • Drake, "Back to Back"
  • Fetty Wap, "Trap Queen"
  • Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
  • Nicki Minaj feat. Drake & Lil Wayne, "Truffle Butter"
  • Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney, "All Day"

This list is pretty packed and I can't say I really disagree with anything on the list. It's crazy that Paul McCartney has credits on "All Day" I can't imagine they're on the writing side of things. As far as performance though I would have to take this one down to Drizzy vs Lamar for markedly different reasons. Drake's "Back To Back" stoked the flames of the Meek Mill beef and essentially sent the Philly rapper packing as the song is still getting regular spins on the radio and took on resonance of its own as Drake played it, well, back to back at live shows and DJ sets alike. Meanwhile, Kendrick has been focusing  on uplifting the people rather than petty disagreements over Twitter and his "Alright" has emerged as one of the most powerful of the year in any genre.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

  • Big Sean feat. Kanye West & John Legend, "One Man Can Change the World"
  • Common & John Legend, "Glory"
  • Jidenna feat. Roman GianArthur, "Classic Man"
  • Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat, "These Walls"
  • Nicki Minaj feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown, "Only"

Can't help but feel like we just keep seeing the same names, but it's the Grammys so get used to it. Common and John Legend might be able to pull off the small upset here with their single "Glory" from the Selma soundtrack but even if they don't Legend has another iron in the fire with as his collab alongside Kanye West and Big Sean "One Man Can Change The World" is also up for nomination. Once again we get Kendrick's endearing "Alright" taking the center stage and looking to take it's spit is Nicki Minaj's "Only" with Drake, Lil Wayne and Chris Brown. Could you imagine what would happen if these guys read DJBooth once in awhile?

Best Rap Song

  • Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney, "All Day"
  • Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
  • Drake, "Energy"
  • Common & John Legend, "Glory"
  • Fetty Wap, "Trap Queen"

Personally, I don't think any of these are the best rap song of the year, save for "Alright" which if you hadn't noticed by now is the exception to most situations. "Glory" fit the best collaboration category but seems like a stretch here for someone else (cough, Vince Staples) to have a chance. Fetty Wap could well cap an amazing year with a win here after topping the charts with his first three singles the 300 Entertainment signee has been one of the biggest surprises of 2015. 

Best Music Video

  • A$AP Rocky, "LSD"
  • The Dead Weather, "I Feel Love"
  • Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
  • Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, "Bad Blood"
  • Pharrell Williams, "Freedom"

You know what? This one is almost definitely going to Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar and I can't help but think they knew it back when "Bad Blood" dropped. These two dot the entire landscape of this year's awards and organizers are probably salivating at the chance to kill two birds with one stone on this one. A$AP Rocky gets a deserved look here though with his "LSD" video although I personally would have nominated the "Jukebox Joints" if I had to pick a Rocky visual from the past 365. 

As always, the Grammy nominees don't align exactly with the thoughts and feelings of those actually in the culture, but this year it looks like more hits than misses. Of course, there's always time for the committee to screw this up by ignoring Kendrick and all the other truly deserving artists when it's time to open those envelopes and read names. In the meantime, here's hoping for the best...

[By Jake Krez, who doesn't really watch the Grammys. You can follow him on Twitter.]