There’s absolutely no reason for reasonable human beings to attach anything more than minimal importance to the Grammys, arbitrary and out-of-touch as they are. Yet every year, we can’t seem to help ourselves from getting swept up by the hoopla and sport of it all. So when the nominations for the 55th Grammy Awards were released late last night, it was hard not to feel a little vindicated by the multiple nominations awarded to the likes of Frank Ocean (a ceremony-leading 6), Miguel (5), and Nas (4). Or be pleasantly surprised by the recognition bestowed upon veteran behind-the-boards staple Salaam Remi, who scored a “Producer of the Year” nomination. Or bemused at alt-pop group fun. managing to land a nod in each of the four major categories*.
It’s all part of the yearly Grammy exercise — dismissing the Awards’ credibility and making a joke of the Recording Academy’s archaic and sometimes downright baffling selections, all while trying to make some sense of it all (and repressing annoyance at your favorite artists being passed over).
For Hip-Hop fans, who seem to have only a tenuous interest in the awards show to begin with, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. If you had the misfortune of sitting through the slog that was CBS’ Grammy nomination special, you might have chalked up the wholesale ignoring of rap music to the generally campy vibe of the show (that LL Cool J co-hosted was a bit of regretful irony). But there isn’t a single rap artist represented in any of the Big Four categories, an unfortunate reality that robs us of the opportunity to see Taylor Swift awkwardly present “Record of the Year” to “Ni**as in Paris”.
On the bright side, you could do a lot worse than throwing your hat into the ring with Miguel, whose terrific single “Adorn” is up for “Song of the Year,” or Frank Ocean, who will fight it out for “Album of the Year” (Channel Orange), “Record of the Year” (“Thinkin Bout You”), and “Best New Artist.”
The rap-centric categories read mostly standard fair, with Grammy favorites Kanye West and Jay-Z racking up nominations by the handful. There are a few surprises however: 2 Chainz’ less-than-warmly received Based on a T.R.U. Story nabs an unexpected nom for “Best Rap Album” alongside an otherwise predictable list of releases. Drake, who this time last year would have seemed an obvious choice to dominate the awards on the strength of his commercially and critically adored Take Care, ends up with a somewhat quiet three nominations (none in the general categories). Meanwhile, his Young Money running mate Nicki Minaj got shut out completely, a bit of a shocker considering her superstar stature.
Here are the nominations for the general/rap categories:
Record Of The Year
– “Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys
– “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Kelly Clarkson
– We Are Young – Fun. Featuring Janelle Monáe
– “Somebody That I Used To Know” – Gotye Featuring Kimbra
– “Thinkin Bout You” – Frank Ocean
– “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” – Taylor Swift
Album Of The Year
– El Camino – The Black Keys
– Some Nights – fun.
– Babel – Mumford & Sons
– Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
– Blunderbuss – Jack White
Song Of The Year
– “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran, songwriter (Ed Sheeran)
– “Adorn” – Miguel Pimentel, songwriter (Miguel)
– “Call Me Maybe” – Tavish Crowe, Carly Rae Jepsen & Josh Ramsay, songwriters (Carly Rae Jepsen)
– “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” – Jörgen Elofsson, David Gamson, Greg Kurstin & Ali Tamposi, songwriters (Kelly Clarkson)
– “We Are Young” – Jack Antonoff, Jeff Bhasker, Andrew Dost & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Fun. Featuring Janelle Monáe)
Best New Artist
– Alabama Shakes
– Hunter Hayes
– The Lumineers
– Frank Ocean
Best Rap Performance
– “HYFR (Hell Ya F***ing Right)” – Drake Featuring Lil’ Wayne
– “N****s In Paris” – Jay-Z & Kanye West
– “Daughters” – Nas
– “Mercy” – Kanye West Featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz
– “I Do” – Young Jeezy Featuring Jay-Z & André 3000
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
– “Wild Ones” – Flo Rida Featuring Sia
– “No Church In The Wild” – Jay-Z & Kanye West Featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream
– “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” – John Legend Featuring Ludacris
– “Cherry Wine” – Nas Featuring Amy Winehouse
– “Talk That Talk” – Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
Best Rap Song
– “Daughters” – Nasir Jones & Ernest Wilson, songwriters (Patrick Adams, Gary DeCarlo, Dale Frashuer & Paul Leka, songwriters) (Nas)
– “Lotus Flower Bomb” – Olubowale Akintimehin, S. Joseph Dew, Jerrin Howard, Walker Johnson & Miguel Jontel Pimentel, songwriters (Wale Featuring Miguel)
– “Mercy” – Sean Anderson, Tauheed Epps, Stephan Taft, James Thomas, Terrence Thornton & Kanye West, songwriters (Denzie Beagle, Winston Riley & Reggie Williams, songwriters) (Kanye West Featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz)
– “The Motto” – Dwayne Carter, Aubrey Graham & Tyler Williams, songwriters (Drake Featuring Lil’ Wayne)
– “N****s In Paris” – Shawn Carter, Mike Dean, Chauncey Hollis & Kanye West, songwriters (W.A. Donaldson, songwriter) (Jay-Z & Kanye West)
– “Young, Wild & Free” – Calvin Broadus, Chris Brody Brown, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Peter Hernandez & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (T. Bluechel, M. Borrow, T. Griffin, K. Jackson, N. Lee & M. Newman, songwriters) (Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa Featuring Bruno Mars)
Best Rap Album
– Take Care – Drake
– Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 – Lupe Fiasco
– Life Is Good – Nas
– Undun – The Roots
– God Forgives, I Don’t – Rick Ross
– Based On A T.R.U. Story – 2 Chainz
Full list of nominees at Grammy.com.
* – The happy result of which is nominations for G.O.O.D.-affiliated producers Jeff Bhasker and Emile, as well as underground boom-bap-soul architect Jake One.