In the year the Grammys finally, truly recognized hip-hop, two critics break down an epic face-off (Kendrick vs. Jay), a pool of standout newbies (Alessia! Khalid! SZA!) and a monster hit (“Des...pa...cito”) due for a major award moment.
Matthew Trammell: As Kanye West once said, “Oh, it can’t be” -- it’s Grammys time again, and we’re here to talk about the Big Four categories. Let’s start with record of the year. Between Childish Gambino’s “Redbone”; Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber’s “Despacito”; JAY-Z’s “The Story of O.J.”; Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.”; and Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” it’ll come down to Kendrick: young, fast, agile, robbed once, and JAY-Z: old(er), measured, sturdy, winner several times over but never in this category. Like previous winners “Rehab,” “Get Lucky” and “Somebody That I Used to Know,” “HUMBLE.” feels timeless in concept, unique in sound and inescapable on a pop level. “Despacito” and Gambino might take other categories, but in the year that the genre hit critical commercial mass, it’s rap’s award to win.
Puja Patel: “HUMBLE.” is the best record of the year nominee for all the reasons you mentioned. But as the Kendrick versus Jay battle plays out -- and splits the hip-hop vote -- I have a feeling Bruno Mars will swoop right in with his pinky finger up.