Jay-Z leads Grammy nods as hip-hop dominates

VIDEO: REUTERS
Jay-Z’s album “4:44” propelled him to eight Grammy nods.
Jay-Z’s album “4:44” propelled him to eight Grammy nods.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (AFP) - Jay-Z led Grammy nominations on Tuesday (Nov 28) with eight nods, followed closely by fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar with seven, in a striking embrace of hip-hop for the music industry's top prizes.

Jay-Z, who has won an impressive 21 Grammys over his career but has never before been nominated in a major category as a solo artist, is up for Album of the Year for his 4:44 as well as for both Record and Song of the Year.

4:44 marked a return to music by the 47-year-old multi-millionaire after years focused on business ventures.

The album put on display an unusually vulnerable Jay-Z, who acknowledged his infidelity to wife Beyonce, explored his mother's closet life as a lesbian and tackled the state of US race relations.

Lamar's seven nominations came for DAMN., an album which switched back to a more traditional hip-hop style after the 30-year-old Los Angeles native's experiments with jazz, electronica and spoken word.

Bruno Mars, the fun-loving funk revivalist, also fared well with six nominations including Album of the Year for his 24K Magic.

Despacito, the viral hit that tied for the most weeks ever on top of the US singles chart despite being in Spanish, was nominated both for Record of the Year, which recognises the overall performance, and Song of the Year, which honours the songwriter.

The Recording Academy, which consists of more than 13,000 music professionals, will vote to decide the winners who will be unveiled at the annual Grammys gala on Jan 28.

The ceremony will take place in New York, Jay-Z's hometown, to mark the awards' 60th edition after 14 years in Los Angeles.

The industry was already set to honour Jay-Z at the pre-Grammy party thrown by music executive Clive Davis.

FIRST TIME HIP-HOP DOMINATES

The awards mark the first time that the majority of nominations for Album of the Year, the most prestigious prize, hail from hip-hop.

The breakthrough comes after years of criticism about how little the entertainment industry recognises African American artists.

In the past, only two rap-dominated albums have won Album of the Year.

In 2016, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly - a widely acclaimed album that featured an unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement - controversially lost to Taylor Swift's 1989.

And at the last Grammys in February, Adele expressed embarrassment over winning Album of the Year for 25 over Beyonce's experimental and narrative-rich Lemonade.

This time, Swift was only nominated in two side categories, although her chart-topping new Reputation came out too late for consideration for Album of the Year.

Ed Sheeran, another favourite for Grammy glory who has enjoyed nominations annually since 2013, was also shut out in the major categories despite the strong commercial performance of his latest album Divide.

Among other rappers, Childish Gambino - the stage-name of comedian Donald Glover who infuses funk and psychedelic R&B into his hip-hop - is up for Album of the Year and Record of the Year.

Lorde is the only woman in contention for Album of the Year with Melodrama, the 21-year-old New Zealander's sophomore work, a dance-pop exploration of the challenges of adulthood.

The contenders for Best New Artist include the quickly emerging young singers Alessia Cara and Khalid, who are also nominated for Song of the Year for the anti-suicide track 1-800-273-8255 - the title refers to a US telephone helpline.

Also up for Best New Artist are the fast-charging rapper Lil Uzi Vert, prolific songwriter turned breakout pop star Julia Michaels and the innovative R&B singer SZA.

Below is a list of nominees in key categories. The winners will be announced at a live televised awards show on Jan 28:

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

24K Magic - Bruno Mars

4:44 - Jay-Z

Awaken, My Love! - Childish Gambino

Damn. - Kendrick Lamar

Melodrama - Lorde

RECORD OF THE YEAR

24K Magic - Bruno Mars

Despacito - Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber

Humble - Kendrick Lamar

Redbone - Childish Gambino

The Story of OJ - Jay-Z

SONG OF THE YEAR (Songwriters award)

1-800-273-8255 - Alessia Caracciolo, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, Arjun Ivatury and Khalid Robinson, songwriters

4:44 - Shawn Carter and Dion Wilson, songwriters

Despacito - Ramon Ayala, Justin Bieber, Jason "Poo Bear"Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi and Marty James Garton, songwriters

Issues - Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Julia Michaels and Justin Drew Tranter, songwriters

That's What I Like - Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and Jonathan Yip, songwriters

BEST NEW ARTIST

Alessia Cara

Julia Michaels

Khalid

Lil Uzi Vert

SZA

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

Divide - Ed Sheeran

Evolve - Imagine Dragons

Joanne - Lady Gaga

Kaleidoscope EP - Coldplay

Lust For Life - Lana Del Rey

Rainbow - Kesha

BEST URBAN CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

American Teen - Khalid

Awaken, My Love! - Childish Gambino

CTRL - SZA

Free 6lack - 6lack

Starboy - The Weeknd

BEST R&B ALBUM

24K Magic - Bruno Mars

Feel The Real - Musiq Soulchild

Freudian - Daniel Caesar

Gumbo - PJ Morton

Let Love Rule - Ledisi

BEST ROCK ALBUM

A Deeper Understanding - The War on Drugs

Emperor Of Sand - Mastodon

Hardwired...To Self-Destruct - Metallica

The Stories We Tell Ourselves - Nothing More

Villains - Queens Of the Stone Age

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Cosmic Hallelujah - Kenny Chesney

From A Room: Volume 1 - Chris Stapleton

Heart Break - Lady Antebellum

Life Changes - Thomas Rhett

The Breaker - Little Big Town

BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM

American Dream - LCD Soundsystem

Everything Now - Arcade Fire

Humanz - Gorillaz

Pure Comedy - Father John Misty

Sleep Well Beast - The National

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, NON-CLASSICAL

Blake Mills

Calvin Harris

Greg Kurstin

No I.D.

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