Why should you care about the Grammy Awards? Very valid question. But let’s face it: as the Writer’s Strike threatens to shut down more and more red carpet events, the 50th Annual Grammies may be the only constant in this year’s lagging awards season. In that light, the following is the first installment in my three-week countdown to February 10. Read below for my picks and pans in one of 2008’s many Grammy categories.
The award: Best Rap Album
Past five winners: Ludacris (Release Therapy); Kanye West (Late Registration); Kanye West (The College Dropout); OutKast (Speakerboxxx/The Love Below); Eminem (The Eminem Show)
Finding Forever, Common
Kingdom Come, Jay-Z
Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas
T.I. vs. T.I.P., T.I.
Graduation, Kanye West
Who’s Missing: Most surprising in this category is the lack of Timbaland, whose Shock Value gave us “Give It To Me,” “The Way I Are” and “Apologize.” Also missing is 50 Cent’s Curtis, which despite mediocre reviews was the second best-selling hip hop disc of 2007 (behind Kanye).
Who Shouldn’t Be There: The most quizzical choice here is Kingdom Come, the worst effort of Jay-Z’s career. Expect American Gangster, his latest disc, to take this award at the 2009 Grammies. (It was released too late in 2007 for consideration this year.) And the only reason for Nas’ nomination is to atone for his lack of a Grammy; Illmatic, one of the greatest rap albums ever, lost out to Naughty by Nature back in 1995.
Who Should Win: Kanye West. Graduation is a landmark CD: critically acclaimed, remarkably diverse and one of 2007’s few platinum albums. (Thanks to a sales war with 50 Cent, Kanye sold 957,000 copies in one week.) And note the Grammy voters’ love affair with each of Kanye’s first two albums; not to award the third in his trilogy would be irresponsible.
Who Will Win: Kanye West. Graduation might be the first rap disc to take home Album of the Year, so it’s more than a lock in the rap category.