There might be a belief that Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, or the meteoric rise of Cardi B are all examples of how healthy Hip-Hop currently is, in terms of popularity and the content being currently created.
It is fairly impressive that three of the five nominees for Album of the Year (Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino) are all Hip-Hop artists (we know that ‘Bino didn’t really make an album in this genre, but his prior work says he’s still in the culture).
If you really want to stretch the truth, you could kind of say Bruno Mars makes it four (stop throwing popcorn at us!). But what makes this year’s announcement of 2018 Grammy nominees the sweetest? Look no further than North Carolina’s own Rapsody, who is nominated in multiple categories!
Why this is such a big deal
There is no way to completely capture how big of a deal this is for an emcee that has consistently produced solid content for a decade. Content that, unbeknownst to most Grammy committee members, has delivered thoughtful ideas, wordplay, and a musicality that has a timeless sound to it; the replayability of this album is a huge asset to Rapsody.
In addition to how big the nomination itself is, you have to look at who else is nominated for Rap Album of the Year. It might be assumed that either Jay-Z or Kendrick Lamar are going to win this one; both had very good albums. It’s also fair to say that Tyler the Creator and Migos (the other two nominees in this category) cannot be overlooked, and have the same shot as Rapsody to win this award.
Everybody else nominated has, in some form or fashion, been considered to be at the top in Hip-Hop. People are calling Jay a G.O.A.T for 4;44; they’re doing the same for the two ways in which you can listen to Lamar’s DAMN.
Migos is basically the flagbearer for Atlanta Hip-Hop right now, and Tyler is getting his own dues much in the same vein Rapsody is with regards to his continual quality of production.
With respect to the four other acts nominated for this award, there’s a bigger question at stake not just for Rapsody, but for the genre and the Grammys: what path do you want Hip-Hop to take in the next few years?
Rapsody winning could begin a shift in Hip-Hop
It’s absolutely unfair that Rapsody’s album carries a much heavier burden than the other nominees. If she wins, she’s the first female rapper since Lauryn Hill to win the award. Hill won the award back in 1999; it’s tragic to say that it has been nearly twenty years since a woman has won the award.
If you’ve paid any kind of attention to the history of Hip-Hop, women have played a vital role in it. Women have been music label presidents, producers, songwriters, and emcees. But for some reason, it appears that a large portion of Hip-Hop artists and fans alike downplay or ignore this fact.
It seems like such an odd thing to do. The more women in Hip-Hop, the better the content. More competition. Larger audiences and additional creative possibilities when more than half of the United States is comprised of this group of people. Is it really so threatening to fans of the genre for women to not only have carved out a space for themselves in Hip-Hop, but are long overdue to expand said space?
Perhaps that’s just one interpretation of someone who wants to hear more voices in a musical landscape that could sorely use them with what’s coming out lately. But if we are being honest with ourselves, one of the core tenants of Hip-Hop is to give a voice to the voiceless; not winning this award would not dull Rapsody’s talent one bit.
But it would certainly dim the potential shine this genre has if it just opened itself up a bit more to some of its own artists and fans.