This article is part of a series in celebration of a new, dynamic voice in Black America: the NUBIANO Exchange. Brace yourself for the NUBIANO experience.
First things first: 2007 was Kanye West's year. In the highly-publicized 9/11 sales war, West's Graduation trumped 50 Cent's Curtis, 957,000 to 691,000, and churned out the year’s best sales week for an album. In addition, "Stronger," Graduation's lead single topped Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Graduation also produced four additional hits ("Can't Tell Me Nothing," "Good Life" and "Flashing Lights" in the U.S. and “Homecoming” in the U.K.).
2007 also saw the release of Jay-Z’s tenth album, American Gangster, which was named by Rolling Stone as the third best album of 2007, and received a glimpse of the rising importance of independent media, with “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” garnering much online success and becoming the year’s best-selling digital single, with more than 3 million downloads.
Here are my predictions for the 50th Grammy Awards in the rap field:
Best Rap Solo Performance
- "The People" – Common [Geffen]
- "I Get Money" – 50 Cent [Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records]
- "Show Me What You Got" – Jay-Z [Roc-A-Fella Records]
- "Big Things Poppin' (Do It)" – T.I. [Grand Hustle/Atlantic]
- "Stronger" – Kanye West [Roc-A-Fella Records]
Not only did "Stronger" top the Billboard 100, it also landed the #1 spot on the United World, Canadian Hot 100, and UK singles charts. Although "Stronger" did not top Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart, like 2005's "Slow Jamz," 2006's "Gold Digger" or 2008's "Good Life," neither did the singles of West's competition. [SIDENOTE: T.I.'s "Big Things Poppin' (Do It)" peaked at #2; Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got" and 50 Cent's "I Get Money" peaked at #4; and Common's "The People" did not chart at all.]
If Grammy history repeats itself, Kanye West will rack up multiple awards in the rap categories and lose in the general (read: mainstream) field. West has been nominated in this category twice before: "Through the Wire" (2005) and "Gold Digger" (2006). Expect another win, after his Grammy success with "Gold Digger."
Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group
- "Southside" – Common featuring Kanye West [Geffen]
- "Make It Rain" – Fat Joe featuring Lil’ Wayne [Terror Squad Entertainment]
- "Party Like A Rockstar" – Shop Boyz [OnDeck/Universal Republic Records]
- "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)" – UGK featuring OutKast [Jive]
- "Better Than I've Ever Been" – Kanye West, Nas & KRS-One [Nike]
Although "Party Like A Rockstar" is the only recognizable hit from the Shop Boyz, the song, without a shadow of doubt, was one of the year’s most successful hits. The song topped Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. [SIDENOTE: The only reason "Party" didn't reach #1 on the Hot 100 is due to the long, successful run of Rihanna's "Umbrella."]
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
- "I Wanna Love You" – Akon featuring Snoop Dogg [SRC/Universal Motown]
- "Kiss, Kiss" – Chris Brown & T-Pain [Jive]
- "Let It Go" – Keyshia Cole featuring Missy Elliott & Lil' Kim [Confidential Records/Geffen]
- "Umbrella" – Rihanna featuring Jay-Z [Def Jam Recordings]
- "Good Life" – Kanye West featuring T-Pain [Roc-A-Fella]
Kanye West has been nominated in this category three times, without winning: "Slow Jamz" (2005), "All Falls Down" (2005) and "They Say" (2006). Under normal circumstances, I would expect a fourth loss for Kanye West, but voter sentiment may be in his favor. Ultimately, a win for "Good Life" will depend on the answers to the following two questions: (1) Will Rihanna's "Umbrella" be blessed and win in the Grammy’s general field, as Song of the Year or Record of the Year? (2) Will Academy voters throw sentimental support behind Kanye West, due to Grammy history and his mother's death? If so, "Good Life" will reign supreme. My money is still on Rihanna's "Umbrella."
Best Rap Song
- "Ayo Technology" (performed by 50 Cent featuring Justin Timberlake) – Nate (Danja) Hills, Curtis Jackson, Timothy Mosley & Justin Timberlake [Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records; Publishers: 50 Cent Music Publishing/Virginia Beach Music/Danjahandz Music/WB Music Corp./Tenman Tunes]
- "Big Things Poppin'" (performed by T.I.) – Clifford Harris & Byron Thomas [Grand Hustle/Atlantic; Publishers: Crown Club Publishing/Warner Chappell Music, Fresh Is The Word]
- "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (performed by Kanye West) – Aldrin Davis & Kanye West [Roc-A-Fella; Publishers: Very Good Beats/Hip Hop Since 1978]
- "Crank That" (performed by Soulja Boy Tell'Em) – Soulja Boy Tell'Em [Collipark/Interscope Records; Publisher: Element 9 Recordings]
- "Good Life" (performed by Kanye West featuring T-Pain) – Aldrin Davis, Mike Dean, Faheem Najm & Kanye West [Roc-A-Fella; Publishers: Yellow Brick Road Music/Eiseman Music/EMI Blackwood Music/Please Gimme My Publishing/Careers BMG Music Publishing, Warner-Tamerlane Publishing]
Kanye West has been nominated in this category two times. Luckily for West, both nominations (2005's "Jesus Walks" and 2006's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone") spawned a Grammy win. This year, I would expect another win; however, I expect a split of votes between "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Good Life" that will leave Kanye West empty-handed. Oh, what a sad day it will be, when Soulja Boy accepts the Best Rap Song Grammy for "Crank That."
Best Rap Album
- Finding Forever – Common [Geffen]
- Kingdom Come – Jay-Z [Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Recordings]
- Hip Hop Is Dead – Nas [Def Jam/Columbia/The Jones Experience]
- T.I. vs T.I.P. – T.I. [Grand Hustle/Atlantic]
- Graduation – Kanye West [Roc-A-Fella Records]
Kanye West's previous two efforts, College Dropout (2005) and Late Registration (2006), have both won Grammys for Best Rap Album. Voter sentiment aside, Graduation will meet the same fate, due to the following facts: the album topped the Billboard 200 chart; had the best opening sales week of 2007, across all genres — moving 957,000 copies in its first week; and produced four singles ("Can't Tell Me Nothing," "Stronger," "Good Life" and "Flashing Lights") that reached the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart.
The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will take place on Sunday, February 10, 2008. CBS will broadcast the ceremony at 8PM ET/PT.