Music Times considers the 2015 Grammy nominees for Best Rap Performance, featuring tracks from Eminem, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Lecrae.


"3005" by Childish Gambino
"i" by Kendrick Lamar
"0 to 100 / The Catch Up" by Drake
"Rap God" by Eminem
"All I Need Is You" by Lecrae

WHO SHOULD WIN: "i" by Kendrick Lamar

If justice is served at the 2015 Grammys, and we're rarely sure that it will be, Kendrick Lamar will finally have his first win at the ceremony, after none of his seven 2014 nominations panned out. It's bizarre under what a difference in circumstances that the emcee appears for the 2015 rendition of the Best Rap Performance category, contradicting his 2014 nomination for "Swimming Pools (Drank)"—a bleak look at alcoholism and its impact on Lamar's personal and family history—while "i" presents the same rapper, waking up without a hangover for the first time in ages and literally proclaiming that "I love myself."

Sounds like the sentimental goop that most hip-hop-heads can't take seriously but Lamar struts confidently, as he always has, and doesn't let his newfound optimism prevent him from summarizing how the same rough childhood and substance abuse added up the the better version of himself we see now. It's a version of Aloe Blacc's "The Man" written for a crowd with a rougher edge.

Lecrae's "All I Need Is You" shares a similar sentiment, albeit a less aggressive one, but that rapper's blatant self-censorship rings insincere with us (conscious rappers: cursing is still cursing, whether you only say the first syllable or not).

Drake's "0 to 100 / The Catch Up" offers the best competition for Lamar this year, reflecting a conceptual ambition of a higher level than the rest of the Young Money crew, but ultimately Drizzy has some catching up to do lyrically with Lamar (as do most of us). Eminem's "Rap God" appears towering at first but it's a Jenga game...not much holding it up between the rapper's few choice bars. Childish Gambino gets the raw deal from the nomination, as the Recording Academy opted for "3005," a lesser competitor compared to his "Sweatpants," also from Because The Internet.

WHO WILL WIN: "0 to 100 / The Catch Up" by Drake

We opened this article by blubbering about how Kendrick Lamar got the shaft from his previous seven Grammy nominations but Drake hasn't fared much better. Many forget that he's a mere 1-for-18 because that one win was the Best Rap Album Grammy for Take Care during 2013. He and Lamar are the only candidates whom we see taking home the trophy but choosing between them is an eenie-meenie affair.

The Recording Academy will love "i" for its sunny disposition, combined with Lamar's ability to maintain an edge while delivering it, but something tells us they'll enjoy the more grandiose plan behind "Catch Up" even more. Stretching nearly five minutes as a single (and plus six raw) thanks to its medley form, "0 to 100 / The Catch Up" is hardly traditional Top 40 material yet Drake does an excellent job of keeping us hooked throughout. The transition from full-on swag to a pensive outro, is reminiscent of the prog-hop transitions Kanye West has been making since 2008.

We'll mark Lamar as the possible upset winner but we'll be surprised if any of the other three acts sees the podium.

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