When it comes to rap in regards to the Grammys, the question has become not who we hope wins, but who will win. And the answer usually comes in a trembling echo of united frustration. It happened last year when Kendrick Lamar was up against Macklemore. Rap aficionados were rooting for the Compton, Calif., rapper, whose critically acclaimed debut good kid, m.a.a.d city was branded an instant classic, but Macklemore, who many didn’t consider as an “authentic” MC, ultimately swept the category.
It looks as if history will repeat itself. While Childish Gambino, Eminem, Common, ScHoolboy Q and Wiz Khalifa are nominated for Best Rap Album this year, it’s more than likely that Iggy Azalea will take home the award at the 57th annual Grammy Awards for her album, The New Classic.
Based off the exposure and mainstream success Azalea has achieved in 2014, it’s safe to say that she’ll beat out the rest of the nominees. Plus Azalea’s singles — specifically “Fancy,” featuring Charli XCX — had the biggest impact on the charts and radio over the competing artists.
What may sway voters toward The New Classic is what disappoints loyal rap fans: It has garnered mainstream exposure because of its pop influence, as was the case with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist. Common, a veteran rapper, released one of this year’s most brutal reflections on society, Nobody’s Smiling. It’s centered on the then and now of his hometown of Chicago, interweaving memories of his own with stories of the catastrophic violence that’s gripping the city.
Also, the elephant in the room intensifies irritation: In a genre born from black culture, the potential category winner is not only white, but has been accused of appropriating black culture since the start of her career. All that, plus there is not one person of color nominated in the top categories: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. (If Beyoncé isn’t nominated for Album of the Year when the nods are revealed Friday night, I can almost promise the Bey Hive will light Twitter on fire.) The GRAMMYs feels like a popularity contest, and I can’t help but wonder how much being white helps.
The one artist in the Best Rap Album category sure to give Azalea a run for her money is Eminem, since he’s had the top-selling album of 2014. The Marshall Mathers LP 2, released on Nov. 5, 2013, has sold 2,244,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen Music.
YG was snubbed from a Best Rap Album nomination. The Compton rapper’s The Krazy Life album deserved a nomination, with a pristine mixture of YG’s engaging storytelling and DJ Mustard‘s repetitive, ultimately addictive, soundscapes. Additionally, Mustard, who produced hits including Tinashe‘s “2 On” and Jeremih‘s “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” was excluded from the Producer of the Year category.
The silver lining of the Best Rap Album category is Childish Gambino’s because the internet. The album isn’t a typical rap album; it’s an effort layered with emotion, featuring Gambino spit-singing from the core.
— Dj mustard (@DJmustard) December 5, 2014