JAY-Z Along With Hip Hop & R&B Dominate the 2018 Grammy Nominations

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Tuesday, 28 November 2017 444 Views 0 Comments
JAY-Z Along With Hip Hop & R&B Dominate the 2018 Grammy Nominations

The 2018 Grammy nominees were revealed Tuesday (Nov. 28) morning. And you know what comes next: the inevitable deluge of tweets, articles and conversations centered around “how was [insert fave here] not nominated?!” Sometimes the outcry is justified (it’s still crazy Kanye West’s widely acclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy didn’t land an album of the year nom), other times it’s not (fan armies have been known to raise hell over perceived snubs… even if their artist didn’t release a single thing during that year’s eligibility period), but at the end of the day you gotta take a deep breath and realize that there are only so many nods per category — so no matter who’s nominated, someone is going to walk away grumbling.

That being said, the nominees for the 2018 Grammys are some of the most heartening choices in years; perusing the options in the Big 4 and major genre categories, there’s not a lot to get extremely upset by (unless, of course, you’re a Directioner).

By our reckoning, these are the five biggest surprises and five biggest snubs of the 2018 Grammy nominations.

Surprise: JAY-Z’s Dominance

Hov leads the pack with eight noms this year, and he scores his first-ever album of the year nomination with the reflective, masterful 4:44. But what’s truly surprising is that he also scored song of the year and record of the year nominations for “4:44” and “The Story of O.J.,” respectively. Typically, songs that land SOTY and ROTY nominations are massive hits that a casual music fan knows, i.e., songs that are so inescapable you know them even if you ignored the album they hail from. And while “4:44” did peak at No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100, “The Story of O.J.” wasn’t even a single – and you’d be hard-pressed to find a layman who could rap either off the top of their head. What does that mean? Tidings of great joy for JAY: His presence in the major categories this year tips that the Recording Academy is serious about giving the rap legend his due.

Surprise: Hip-Hop Takeover

It’s not just JAY-Z: take a look at the Big 4 categories. If it’s not a rap release by definition, chances are good it’s heavily influenced by hip-hop production (SZA, Alessia Cara) or phrasing (Bruno Mars, Khalid). Sure, Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! is straight out of the Funkadelic playbook, but Gambino got his start as a rapper, and George Clinton is basically a one-stop library for iconic hip-hop samples. “Despacito”? Reggaeton is unthinkable without hip-hop. Of the 20 nominees in the Big 4, only Julia Michaels (up for best new artist and song of the year with “Issues”) and Lorde (up for album of the year with Melodrama) exist outside the immediate realm of rap’s influence.

Surprise: Donald Glover, the Unexpected Grammy Fave

Be honest: You were not expecting Childish Gambino’s George Clinton about-face Awaken, My Love! to get an album of the year nom nearly a year after its release. Sure, surprise hit “Redbone” kept the LP bubbling throughout the year, but Donald Glover’s psychedelic R&B foray wasn’t in most Grammy prognosticators top 10 picks. So what happened? Well, Grammy voters love albums with organic instrumentation vs. computer-programmed music, and this album wears the former on its sleeve. And from Beck’s Morning Phase to Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, the last few years always seem to involve a surprise AOYT candidate. Or perhaps the Recording Academy never got over the end of Community and will do anything do get a Troy and Abed In the Morning spin-off going.

Surprise: Best New Artist Noms

While we’re not surprised that SZA, Khalid and Julia Michaels are up for the honor, Lil Uzi Vert was a long shot – it wasn’t unthinkable the rising star would get shut out (while Uzi hit No. 1 as a feature on Migos’ “Bad and Boujee,” both Fetty Wap and Desiigner topped the Billboard Hot 100 as lead artists, and neither earned a best new artist nod in their years). Alessia Cara is another welcome surprise – many were hoping the preternaturally talented singer-songwriter would earn a best new artist nom last year, and weren’t necessarily expecting her to nab one on the rebound. But hey, better late than never when it comes to someone with as much creative promise as Cara.

Surprise: “Despacito”

Okay, maybe it’s not a shocker to see a song that tied Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men’s 21-year-record for longest-running Hot 100 No. 1 (“One Sweet Day,” 16 weeks from 1995-96) up for multiple Grammys. But keep in mind it’s up for record of the year, song of the year and best pop duo/group performance. Typically, Latin-flavored songs don’t get those nods – especially ones predominantly sung in Spanish. In fact, the last time Latin music was this well represented in the SOTY and ROTY categories was 2000, when Santana’s “Smooth” ft. Rob Thomas and Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” competed in both categories (“Smooth” took both). So three major-category noms for Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” is a bit of a surprise, and certainly a historic one. -Billboard


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