Updated: Jan 31, 2020
Hip Hop Album of the Year
“The Lost Boy” YBN Cordae
“Bandana” Freddie Gibbs
“Rap of Go To The League" 2 Chainz
“TrillStatik” Bun B & Statik Selektah
Rap Mainstream Album of the Year
“So Much Fun” Young Thug
“Port of Miami 2” Rick Ross
“Tha Carter V” Lil Wayne
“Championships” Meek Mill
“Baby on Baby” DaBaby
Another year another Grammy Award nomination list went wrong. I really don’t know why we do this every year as if we should expect anything different. The Grammys are known to be biased; you could release All Eyez on Me but if you aren’t the favorite that year or have ever denounced the award show, you won’t win.
Why do we hold these awards in such high regard when it’s rigged? Deborah Dugan — former CEO of the Recording Academy — accused the award show of including 30 artists that weren’t voted nominees by the members, among other claims. Time will tell if the allegations are true, but it seems believable. Recently Taylor Swift canceled her performance and appearance after hearing about Dugan’s departure and surprise she didn’t win any awards.
There are many cases of this, especially in Hip Hop; just think Nas, Tupac and Snoop among others have never won a grammy.
The Recording Academy does get it right sometimes and with the limited amount of spots some great art is bound to be snubbed. The problem is there is and has been a sizable disconnect of what’s actually influencing the culture. The Billboard charts aren't the barometer. Great artists can do both, but for instance Macklemore’s The Heist should have never won rap album of the year. Tyler, The Creator should have not been in the rap album category for IGOR. Both deserved album of the year nods or any of the pop categories but not rap album. Tyler agreed with this as well after winning the best rap album award.
Long story short, the Grammy Awards need someone from the culture to help with the nominations. A connected influence is missing and it shows.
YBN Cordae remained my favorite project of 2019 and for the Grammy season (Oct. 1, 2018 – Aug. 31, 2019). The Lost Boy was the best debut album I’ve heard since good kid m.A.A.d city. The sonic piece told a story about a boy coming into adulthood that was full of transparency, authenticity and clever punchlines. In a world of microwave music, The Lost Boy was playable from start to finish featuring substance, character and style. It is a cohesive concept LP that tells a story, unlike your usual contemporary album that contains a bunch of random songs without a theme.
Freddie Gibbs’s Bandana was an ode to the traditional Hip Hop sound. Madlib produced the hell out of the record and Gibbs brought the lyricism. It’s hard to stand out presently with the number of artists and music that is released but Bandana cut through the noise. The project showed that you don’t have to evolve with the latest trends. If artists remain authentic and make quality music the cream will rise to the top eventually.
Rap or Go To The League was 2 Chainz’s best album easily. He had a great marketing campaign highlighted by the biggest name in sports, Lebron James but no matter the promotion, the music still has to be good to last. The LP was solid all the way through; it encompassed an eclectic body of work. From “Rule The World” to “Momma I Hit a Lick” to “Threat 2 Society,” Rap or Go To The League was not just Tity Boi’s best it was in the elite class of rap released this year.
Rapsody’s EVE will be one of those Hip Hop classic albums remembered in time. The message full of African-American and women empowerment was something that was needed, to say the least. This work of art was interconnected and carefully created. Besides Rapsody showing her lyrical prowess she was able to include pride, legacy, joy and self-love all into one project.
TrillStatik by Bun B and Statik Selektah was one of the most underrated projects this year. The rapper and producer combo was a match made in heaven like the aforementioned Gibbs and Madlib. The jazz-inspired east coast beats with Bun’s Houston-bred lyrics were faultless. The UGK Alumni isn’t 46 years old trying to sound like a 21-year-old, his perspective has grown but he remains relatable. Also, the album was made within 24 hours but what’s more impressive about that is you can’t tell.
Mainstream wise So Much Fun ran the streets, besides the crazy hit record “Hot” the album produced many other hits including “Jumped Out the Window.” Meek Mill had the most accurately titled LP with Championships. The Philly native put together his best album, it was raw, authentic, painful and triumphant. Meek’s LP was easily one of this year’s greatest.
Lil Wayne proved the wait was worth it for Tha Carter V ,after all of the delays and hype the album could've easily turned into a disappointment but he delivered classic Wayne. The Young Money CEO’s best work since The Carter III. Lastly, DaBaby’s Baby on Baby, I mean, should I even have to explain this one, unless you’ve been under a rock all of 2019 you know DaBaby was the hottest rapper of the year.
Honorable mentions include, of course the Dreamville album, it was great though a compilation (showed the importance of comps). Kota the Friend is going to be one of those ones, FOTO is a display of what's to come. IGOR was also remarkable but wouldn’t consider it Hip Hop or Rap. Mainstream wise Megan Thee Stallion’s project was technically a mixtape. They’re multiple albums that could be on the list but these are the collections that made the cut.
Check out last year's list that featured Nipsey Hussle's Victory Lap before his untimely demise.