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The Grammys are coming up; predictions are in

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This year there is no doubt that Hip-Hop and R&B dominated the overall music scene nationally and around the globe. Even through in past years it seems like these two categories never got there just due, this year is different with Jay-Z having the most nominated album this year.

This is also one of the most diverse lists of artists nominated between the categories Album, Record and Song of the Year. With this year’s standouts including acts like Cardi B, Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar all preforming and nominated, you can tell that Hip-Hop will not go unrecognized for its substantial rise in popularity and quality.

Best New Artist

 The nominees for best new artist are Alessia Cara, Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels and SZA. These artists have already put out award-worthy music and are likely to develop more as they grow in their careers. You have Julia Michaels who’s not only nominated for this category but also for Song of the Year with “Issues.” Alessia Cara also holds her own at this year’s Grammys, nominated in three more categories. Meanwhile, you have both Lil Uzi Vert and Khalid, who, needless to say, both had an amazing 2017 that launched them both to the A-list of the music industry. Even with all this new, amazing talent in this category, the one who clearly sits atop the music industry is SZA. Her album Ctrl was certified as gold by the RIAA and was highly praised by critics as one of the best albums of the year in 2017—all made more impressive because this was just her debut studio album that gave America a taste of her potential.

Best Urban Contemporary Album

This year’s Best Urban Contemporary Album nominees are stacked with special talents that stand on their own when it comes to their music projects. They embody all of the great elements needed to create classic R&B albums: smooth vocals combined with the influences of soul, funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz and pop sound productions. Nominees featured seasoned veterans like Childish Gambino (Awaken, My Love!) and The Weekend (Starboy) while also having new upcoming talents like Khalid (American Teen), 6LACK (Free 6LACK) and SZA (Ctrl).

Out of all the other categories that I mention, I feel that this one is the hardest one to predict because each of these albums are praised by critics and loved by most R&B fans. Personally, if I had to decide the Best Urban Contemporary Album, I would go with SZA’s Ctrl because I believe that this album had the biggest impact for her career, launching her into the national spotlight and proving that she didn’t need TDE or Kendrick Lamar to get her to this national level. Let’s also take into account how she gracefully illustrates her views on sexuality, feminism and empowerment while applying her confessional imagery style.

Best Rap Album

If we’re being honest, this is really a two-horse race for the best rap album of the year. I believe the winner of this category will be between Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN” and Jay-Z’s “4:44” because both of these albums will be celebrated as classics, second only to the legendary status of K Dot and HOV. There’s no doubt that “Laila’s Wisdom” and “Flower Boy” were amazing projects in their own rights, and Migos’ album “Culture” that undoubtedly put them on top of the next generation of hip-hop superstars. But they all fall short to the master pieces Kendrick Lamar and Jay Z made.

My pick would have to be for Jay Z’s “4:44” based off the fact that the build up to the release of this album was highly anticipated by not just fans of hip-hop but by top tier, hip-hop artists too. When Jay Z released his album, the hip-hop world stopped to listen for the jewels that would be expressed for this highly anticipated album.

Album Of The Year

Once again, the winner is HOV. My bold prediction is that “4:44” will be the first hip-hop album in 14 years to receive the Album of the Year award from the Grammys. When you take into account the topics Jay Z touches on in “4:44,” themes such as his own personal failings, ideas on black financial liberation solutions, the state of hip-hop in contemporary times and hip-hop and black culture in general, you see that with this album, Jay Z’s goal was to pass a little wisdom on to the world. Kendrick touches on these topics on his album as well, but when you hear these thoughts spoken by a hip-hop icon, even the most casual hip-hop listener must really think and picture what Jay-Z is trying to illustrate.

Steven Turner-Parker can be reached at [email protected] 

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