jiggaGrammy has had an interesting relationship with hip-hop over the years. They didn’t institute a rap category until 1988, and for those first few years, it seemed like the rap categories were some kind of joke. They went to safe-rap artists like Young MC and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, while unquestionably more talented artists like Public Enemy went winless. Hell, I’m not sure if Ice Cube, an undisputed hip-hop legend, has ever even been NOMINATED for one of those statues.

Over the past years, Grammy’s reputation has gotten better, although it could be argued that they still play it safe to an extent. Eminem, Kanye West and OutKast have almost completely ruled the rap category this decade, with Jay-Z swooping in for a few trophies along the way. This year’s nominees don’t offer anything embarrassing, but I wonder if seeing the same names over and over is an indication of Grammy’s unwillingness to look beyond the status quo or an indication of how much hip-hop fuckin’ sucks these days.

Anyway, here are the nominees in the rap categories

Best Rap Solo Performance

  • Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)…(Jay-Z)/ A Milli (Lil Wayne)/ Paris, Tokyo
    (Lupe Fiasco) / N.i.*.*.e.r. (The Slave And The Master)(Nas)/ Sexual Eruption
    (Snoop Dogg)

Will Win: Jay-Z

Should Win: Jay-Z

WTF?: After the kind of year T.I. had, where the hell is he?

All five nominees in this category are pretty solid. However, Nas’s track is a political hot potato, which should be enough for it to not win. Snoop’s song is more singing than rapping (as good as it is), and Lupe Fiasco, despite a Grammy win already, isn’t well known enough to take this one home. There’s the possibility that Wayne could walk away with this in light of having the biggest selling album of the year, but I go with Jay-Z, due to his previous Grammy success (one of his five trophies is in this category for “99 Problems”) and because his song’s the best of the five nominees.

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group

  • Royal Flush (Big Boi Featuring Raekwon And Andre 3000)/ Swagga Like Us (Jay-Z & T.I. Featuring Kanye West & Lil Wayne)/
    Mr. Carter (Lil Wayne Featuring Jay-Z)/ Wish You Would (Ludacris Featuring T.I.)/ Put On (Young Jeezy Featuring Kanye West)

Will Win: “Swagga Like Us”

Should Win: This category sucks

WTF: The Roots (previous Grammy winners) made a great record, and they’re actually a rap GROUP as opposed to a superstar collaboration. Where are they?

Despite the fact that all four artists on the song are nominated elsewhere in the SAME category, or maybe because of it, this one’s a no-brainer for the “Swagga” camp. The fact that they’re performing on the show seals the deal. The only other song that has a snowflake’s chance in hell is “Mr. Carter”. The Big Boi and Ludacris songs aren’t especially well-known, and while “Put On” was the biggest hit, I just can’t see Young Jeezy winning a Grammy.

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

  • American Boy (Estelle Featuring Kanye West)/ Low (Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain)/ Green Light (John Legend & Andre 3000)/ Got Money
    (Lil Wayne Featuring T-Pain)/ Superstar (Lupe Fiasco Featuring Matthew Santos)

Will Win: “American Boy”

Should Win: “Green Light”

WTF?: T-Pain gets nominated twice. Sigh.

Well, the good thing about seeing T-Pain twice in this category is that he’ll more than likely cancel himself out, leaving three songs with a legitimate chance of winning (despite “Low” being the year’s biggest single, I can’t imagine anyone giving Flo-Rida a Grammy). Lupe’s song feels like it’s been out for 10 years already, so people have already forgotten. The Grammy folks love John Legend AND Andre 3000, so there’s a chance that the deserving “Green Light” could sneak in, but I pick “American Boy”, which is the only song in this category nominated in one of the 4 major categories (Song of the Year).

Best Rap Song

  • Lollipop: D. Carter, S. Garrett, D. Harrison, J. Scheffer & R. Zamor, songwriters (Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major)/ Low:
    Tramar Dillard, M. Humphrey, Faheem Najm, Korey Roberson & Howard Simmons, songwriters (Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain)
    Sexual Eruption: Calvin Broadus, S. Lovejoy & D. Stewart, songwriters (Snoop Dogg)/ Superstar: Lupe Fiasco & Soundtrakk, songwriters (Lupe Fiasco Featuring Matthew Santos)/ Swagga Like Us: Jeff Bhaskev, D. Carter, S. Carter, Clifford Harris, Plain Pat & Kanye West, songwriters (M. Arulpragasam, N. Headon, M. Jones, J. Mellor, T. Pentz & P. Simonon, songwriters) (Jay-Z & T.I. Featuring Kanye West & Lil Wayne)

Will Win: “Lollipop”

Should Win:”Superstar”

This is a songwriter’s award, so while it would be nice to see M.I.A. and the members of The Clash win a Grammy (“Swagga Like Us” samples a line from M.I.A.’s smash “Paper Planes”, which gets its’ musical bed from The Clash’s “Straight to Hell”), the fact is that all of the performers except T.I. give subpar lyrical performances. Wait? Since when does that matter at the Grammy Awards? In this case, I pick Lil’ Wayne to win in this category, because the biggest hit usually wins, and “Low” is automatically disqualified because, again, no one’s voting for Flo-Rida. Lupe’s “Superstar” (and T.I.’s verse from “Swagga”) are the only legitimately solid lyrical accomplishments in this category, however. “Swagga” could sneak past and win this. Either way. Lil’ Wayne is going home with something in this category.

Best Rap Album

  • American Gangster (Jay-Z)/ Tha Carter III (Lil Wayne)/ The Cool (Lupe Fiasco)/ Nas (Nas)/ Paper Trail (T.I.)

Will Win: Lil Wayne

Should Win: Pick’em

WTF: Again, The Roots should have been represented here. They wouldn’t have won, but they should have been in the category.

With five solid entries in this category, it’s difficult to pick a winner. Or is it? Nas’s album, despite the album title controversy, flew under the radar and Fiasco’s relative anonymity will be his downfall. I should (and will) pick Lil Wayne to win because his album was the most popular in the category (and is the only one nominated in one of the Big 4, with his nod for Album of the Year), but T.I. is the it guy right now and the Grammy folks might want to pick the artist that’s freshest in their minds. He could sneak this one out, as could Jay-Z, as the elder statesman and a previous winner in this category (for “Hard Knock Life”). “American Gangster” got quite solid reviews (reasoning beyond me), so that could push it over the top.

Whoever wins which category, I say Lil Wayne brings home a lot of trophies regardless.