Grammy Predictions: The Rap Field

Paul Grein
Stop The Presses!

Kanye West and Jay-Z, whose shelves are already jammed with Grammys, could win three more awards this year: Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. A clean sweep of these three awards would boost West’s Grammy count to 21; Jay-Z’s to 17.

Watch The Throne, the pair’s chart-topping 2011 collaboration, was nominated for Best Rap Album last year, but lost to West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Even so, one of its tracks, “Otis,” won last year for Best Rap Performance. This year, its most successful track, “N****s In Paris,” is likely to win two awards. A third track from the album, “No Church In The Wild,” has a good chance to also win.

Best Rap Album

The nominees: Drake’s Take Care, Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1, Nas’ Life Is Good, The Roots’ Undun, Rick Ross’ God Forgives, I Don’t, 2 Chainz’ Based On A T.R.U. Story.

The discussion: This is 2Chainz’s first studio album; Drake’s second; Lupe Fiasco’s fourth; Ross’ fifth; Nas’ 10th and the Roots’ 11th.

Drake’s album is by far the best-seller of the five nominees. In fact, it has sold more copies than the other five albums combined.

Five of the six nominees have yet to win a Grammy. The exception is the Roots, which has won two Grammys, including Best R&B Album for Wake Up!, a 2010 collabo with John Legend.

This probably comes down to a showdown between Drake and Nas, who has been a leader in rap since 1994.

The pick: Drake.

Best Rap Song

The nominees: Nas’ “Daughters” (which he co-wrote with Ernest Wilson), “Lotus Flower Bomb” by Wale featuring Miguel (which they co-wrote with S. Joseph Dew, Jerrin Howard and Walker Johnson), “Mercy” by Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz (which they co-wrote with Stephan Taft and James Thomas), “The Motto” by Drake featuring Lil’ Wayne (which they co-wrote with Tyler Williams), “N****s In Paris” by Jay-Z/Kanye West (which they co-wrote with Mike Dean and Chauncey Hollis), and “Young, Wild & Free” by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa featuring Bruno Mars (which they co-wrote with Chris Brody Brown, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine).

The discussion: Four of these songs were monster hits, with sales of more than 2 million. “Young, Wild & Free” is the best-seller of the bunch, followed by “N****s In Paris,” “The Motto” and “Mercy.”

Songs by West and/or Jay-Z have won in six of the nine years that this award has been presented. (They collaborated on 2009’s “Run This Town”). When you take their Grammy track into account, plus the success of this song, plus the fact that it was a witty, engaging hit, how can it lose?

The pick: “N****s In Paris.”

Best Rap Performance

The nominees: “HYFR (Hell Ya F***ing Right)” by Drake featuring Lil Wayne, “N****s In Paris” by Jay-Z/Kanye West, Nas’ “Daughters,” “Mercy” by Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz and “I Do” by Young Jeezy featuring Jay-Z and Andre 3000.

The discussion: In each of the last three years, the song that won Best Rap Song also won a performance Grammy. “Run This Town,” “Empire State Of Mind” and “All Of The Lights” also won for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Voters tend to find a winner and stick with it. So if “N****s” In Paris” wins for Best Rap Song, it will probably pick up a second award here.

The pick: Jay-Z/Kanye West

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

The nominees: “Wild Ones” by Flo Rida featuring Sia, “No Church In The Wild” by Jay-Z/Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream, “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” by John Legend featuring Ludacris, “Cherry Wine” by Nas featuring Amy Winehouse, “Talk That Talk” by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z

The discussion: Jay-Z and/or West has appeared on the winning entry in each of the last five years—and in seven of the last nine years.

Flo Rida, who has yet to win a Grammy, is nominated for “Wild Ones,” which has sold more digital copies than the other four finalists combined. The second best-seller in the bunch is “Talk That Talk” by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z. They have won in this category twice, for “Umbrella” and “Run This Town” (which also included West).

There will be curiosity about “No Church In The Wild,” which featured Ocean before his solo debut made him a star, and “Cherry Wine,” which features the late Amy Winehouse. (Winehouse won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance last year for “Body And Soul,” a pairing with Tony Bennett.)

This is by far the hardest call of the four rap awards. The only choice that would surprise me is the Legend/Ludacris collabo.

The pick: Jay-Z & Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean and The-Dream