Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hip Hop Predictions for the 52nd Grammy Awards

Note: My predictions are not based on whether or not I believe each choice is the “best” of each selection. In fact my nominees lists would look very different from the ones chosen by the Academy. Instead, these “predictions” are more like intuitions, based on my gut and pop trends I’ve noticed. We’ll see if I’m wrong or right on January 31st, 2010.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Beyoncé & Kanye West – “Ego”
Keri Hilson, Kanye West & Ne-Yo – “Knock You Down”
Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West – “Run This Town”
The Lonely Island & T-Pain – “I’m On a Boat”
T.I. & Justin Timberlake – “Dead and Gone”

Prediction: T.I. & Justin Timberlake – “Dead and Gone”. JT’s chorus on “Dead and Gone” was by far the best sung contribution on this list. The “rap” part of the equation is a toss-up though. “Run This Town” is my second-best guess, but I thought that Rihanna’s vocals were called-in and vapid. Kanye’s raps on “Ego” were memorable, but it don’t feel like a winner to me.

Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group
Beastie Boys & Nas – “Too Many Rappers”
Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent – “Crack A Bottle”
Fabolous & Jay-Z – “Money Goes, Honey Stay”
Kid CuDi, Kanye West & Common – “Make Her Say”
Kanye West & Young Jeezy – “Amazing”

Prediction: Kanye West & Young Jeezy – “Amazing”. This was the anthem for the NBA Playoffs and by far the most memorable of all tracks nominated for this category. My second and third-best guesses fluctuate between “Crack a Bottle” and “Make Her Say” but I don’t think a mediocre Aftermath reunion or a song about oral sex will earn the necessary votes. And I have no clue why the relatively obscure “Too Many Rappers” and the recyclable “Money Goes, Honey Stay” were nominated.

Best Rap Solo Performance
Drake – “Best I Ever Had”
Eminem – “Beautiful”
Jay-Z – “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)”
Kid CuDi – “Day ‘N’ Nite”
Mos Def – “Casa Bey”

Prediction: Eminem – “Beautiful”. There’s a difference between “Best Rap Solo Performance” and “Best Rap Song”. What that difference is to the Academy in the context of hip hop, I’m not 100% sure, but I’ve got my own notions. If I had to choose the best “performance”, I’d say Eminem’s by a long shot. “Beautiful” is the only song in this nominees list that could have been (and possibly was) written with tears rolling down onto the page. Introspective Eminem at some of his best and reminiscent of “Stan”, his rhyme structure, delivery and most importantly his words are as potent as ever. “Beautiful” simply stands out amongst the rest.

Best Rap Song
Drake – “Best I Ever Had”
Kid CuDi – “Day ‘N’ Nite”
T.I. & Justin Timberlake – “Dead and Gone”
Jay-Z – “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)”
Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West – “Run This Town”

Prediction: Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West – “Run This Town”. I don’t particularly think this track is the best on this list – not even the best Jay-Z song to be quite honest. But I get the sense that the radio presence, catchiness and monstrous star power of “Run This Town” will take the cake in this category. Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” (and, to a lesser extent, CuDi’s “Day ‘N’ Nite”) is a worthy nominee, but I don’t expect the RIAA’s grip on the Academy to award a rap song originally released on a freely-distributed mixtape. I just don’t see it happening.

Best Rap Album
Common – Universal Mind Control
Eminem – Relapse
Flo Rida – R.O.O.T.S.
Mos Def – The Ecstatic
Q-Tip – The Renaissance

Prediction: Q-Tip – The Renaissance. Edging out Mos Def’s The Ecstatic in my book by just a slim margin, The Renaissance is a Grammy-caliber album that’s got enough range to please the Academy (i.e. the voters). Brilliant production and execution, not to mention a stand-out collaboration by Grammy darling Norah Jones, will earn The Renaissance the Award.

Mark my words! ;D

For fun: In the comments section, feel free to share your own Grammys predictions. If you go 5/5, I'll credit your intuitive skills on the Grammy wrap-up post!