If you’re a hip-hop fan, then watching the Grammys can be a very frustrating experience since the board seems to be very tone-deaf when it comes to the young genre of music.
We all have our favorite albums, and hip-hop is arguably the most debated genre amongst its very cult-like fans. It’s probably the only music art form where the best album of the year is decided before any award show ever airs. But the funny thing about the Grammys is that the best album crowned by most rap fans is often not selected to win, or at times not even nominated.
Here are 5 instances where the Grammys got it really wrong in the Best Rap Album category.
Kendrick Lamar good kid M.A.A.D city Lost to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist in 2014
This is arguably the biggest robbery in the Best Rap Album Category of all time. While Macklemore had a few hot singles and appealed to white soccer moms and pop music loving teens, Kendrick received widespread critical acclaim for his major label debut and was praised by all of his peers for a project that had such an impact on the rap and pop world.
Kendrick was immediately crowned the new king of hip-hop and this album topped lists for best albums of the decade, while Macklemore’s project was quickly forgotten, and his rap career dwindled when he failed to follow up with the same kind of singles on his follow-up album.
Tyler the Creator Didn’t Make a Rap Album in 2019
Tyler the Creator took the award home at last night’s Grammys, but was displeased because he felt that his project was placed in the wrong category. Tyler expressed his frustration and gratitude to the Grammy audience when he accepted the award. His album was widely praised by critics and fans alike, but most would not call it a rap album per-say. The genre-bending Igor should have been nominated in an alternative category.
Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor and T.I.’s King Lost to Ludacris Release Therapy in 2007
This is a prime example of the Grammy board being absolutely tone-def and out of touch with what was happening in hip-hop at the time. Lupe made a strong debut with his first album receiving a major co-sign from Jay-Z. His album was also being called a classic before it was even released and actually lived up to the title when it finally dropped. T.I. also had a hell of year in 2006 releasing his monster King album which was the project that put him in the upper-echelon of hip-hop and charted his path towards pop success.
Ludacris on the other hand had cut off his signature braids, abandoned his southern hospitality style which made him a household name, and put out a very vanilla rap album that started his decline in the music industry. While it may be serious, it’s one of his least relevant projects, and as a day one Luda fan, this is not the album that should have been nominated out of his consistent catalogue.
50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin Lost to Outkast Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below in 2004
50 Cent was by far the biggest thing in hip-hop from 2002 to 2005. His debut album was not only crowned a classic upon its release, but sold over 10 million copies putting him in the same category commercially as his mentor Eminem.
However, the Grammys largely ignored the phenomenon that was 50 Cent and opted instead to give the Best Rap Album award to Outkast that year for SpeakerBoxxx/TheLove Below. While this is a critically acclaimed project, it is far from Outkast’s best projects which imo are Atliens and Aquemini. These two are widely regarded as the best from Outkast but weren’t even nominate when they were first released.
Outkast must have seemed like the safe play that year, but ignoring the impact of 50 Cent was a huge blunder on the part of the Grammys and showed just how out of touch they were with the hip-hop community. Sure, 50 Cent was surrounded by controversy, but his debut has yet to be topped by any rapper since.
Jay-Z’s The Blueprint Lost to Outkast Stankonia in 2002
This is another case of Outkast winning an award for an album that is not their best and beating out one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. This might be my New York bias talking, but I don’t hear Stankonia being brought up nearly as much as The Blueprint these days.
Jay-Z not only declared his dominance over the rap game with this project, but reinvented his sound with soulful samples from then up and coming producers Kanye West and Just Blaze. He obliterated Nas and Mobb Deep on “The Takeover, ” and made you shed a tear while listening to “Song Cry.” The album also boasted a rare duet with Eminem and Jay-Z trading venomous bars on the classic “Renegade.”
Stankonia undoubtably packed some of Outkast’s biggest hits like “Ms. Jackson” and “So Fresh and So Clean,” but just didn’t have the same impact as The Blueprint.