With new releases from Kendrick, Nicki, Dre, Drake and Future (plus a collab from the latter two), the best rap album category already looks like a fierce competition.

More than a month-and-a-half ahead of the Dec. 7 announcement of the 2016 Grammy nominees, the only real certainty is that the impending best rap album award is bound to be unusually competitive, even by the two-decade-old ­category's typically fierce standards. Within this year's ­eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015), there has been an ­abundance of excellent hip-hop full-lengths from long-established ­veterans and underdog newcomers alike.

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