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The Group Chat Outsider - Ep. 2

It's awards SZN and the Grammys are right around the corner. My favorite televised ceremony airs this Sunday night and I can't wait to catch Chilidish Gambino's first ever Grammy performance and I know Bruno Mars is gonna kill it. In the second episode of The Group Chat, the crew discusses some of the big categories and who they predict will go home with a Gramophone. I express my personal input in the following blog entry.


Best New Artist

First things first, in order to be eligible for the Best New Artist award, you cannot have been nominated for any other Grammys in previous years. The winner is typically judged based on their current body of work and/or impact on the music industry leading up to the show. To be honest, there isn’t really a clear winner this year like there was last year (Chance had no competition) and that’s what makes this category very exciting.

Alessia Cara dropped her debut album at the end of 2015, which gave us “Here” and “Scars to Your Beautiful”. She was featured on two big hits in 2017 (Logic’s “1-800”, Zedd’s “Stay”) and even covered that one joint from the Moana for the soundtrack. However, her impact wasn’t as hard-hitting as the other nominees and really only peaked in the first half of the year. Odds 25:1

Khalid dropped my eighth favorite album of 2017 (American Teen), was also on Logic’s “1-800”, and delivered “Location” and “Young Dumb & Broke” as hit singles. He was also featured on other moderately popular tracks, such as Marshmello’s “Silence” and Calvin Harris’ “Rollin”. He had a big year, but it might not be enough to take home the Grammy. Odds 15:1

Lil Uzi Vert probably has the second best shot at taking this category. With “XO Your Llif3”, three mixtapes, a studio album, and features on songs like “Bad & Boujee” and “RAF”, it’s possible that Uzi could be a winner come Sunday night. Odds: 5:1

Julia Michaels is a name you may not know, but you’ve definitely heard her some of her work via other artists. She’s mainly a songwriter who’s responsible for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar” just to name a couple. Her only hit in 2017 was a song called “Issues” that did okay on the charts. Grammy voters love giving this award to lesser known acts (see: Esperanza Spalding over Drake and Bieber in 2011), but the committee has diversified since then, so maybe not. Odds 10:1

SZA definitely had the biggest year out of the bunch. Ctrl was a commercial and critical success, “Love Galore” was embraced by everyone, and she showed her versatility by jumping on that Maroon 5 track. I think she defines what a “breakthrough artist” truly is and now she’s on the Coachella bill opening for The Weeknd on the main stage. She's the new Chance the Rapper. Odds 3:1

My winner: SZA


Best Rap Performance

The misconception about this award is that the award goes to the best song, but they’re awarding the artist with the best quality performance of their respective song, hence the name of the award. This category is intense because Jay and Kendrick have both won this award twice (three-way tie for most wins with Kanye), but they have never been up against each other. Jay has won for “Otis” & “Niggas in Paris” and Kendrick has won for “i” and “Alright”. It’s also worth noting that they’ve both won this award in back-to-back years for two songs from the same respective album.

“Bounce Back” by Big Sean – A commercial success, but has no shot against the other nominees in this category. Odds 50:1

“Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B – It seems like this track was played at every type of event in the world. House parties, weddings, sports arenas and stadiums, etc. Cardi came out and blew everyone away with her debut single. It’s had a cultural impact, is unforgettable, and might just be enough to earn her her first Grammy. Odds 8:1

“4:44” by JAY-Z – A great record from a great album. Lines were clear, concise, and it gives us Shawn Carter instead of JAY-Z. He has somewhat of a shot at this category, but performance-wise, is it his best delivery? Not exactly, but voters love him. Odds 10:1

“HUMBLE.” By Kendrick Lamar – When it comes to performances, Kendrick always shows up. When he dropped this as his first single for DAMN., I lost my shit. His commanding lyrics and the way he delivers in this song is flawless. If you went to The DAMN. Tour, then you’d know that he let the audience perform this song (basically) in its entirety before taking it back to the beginning to do it himself. That’s power. I’d be upset if he doesn’t take this one. Odds 4:1

“Bad & Boujee” by Migos (ft. Lil Uzi Vert) – This is the song that could potentially get away with the win. It was a Culture-al phenomenon before “HUMBLE.” and “Bodak” came to light. It was so big that even Donald Glover thanked them in his Golden Globes speech just for making the song. Odds 5:1

My winner: “HUMBLE.” by Kendrick Lamar


Best Rap/Sung Performance

Another category that focuses on the performance aspect of the song that’s nominated. Jay has won this category seven times, Rihanna has won this category four times, and Kendrick and Beyoncé have won once each, so it’ll be interesting how this all plays out. They could all get another Grammy or none at all.

“PRBLMS” by 6LACK – Sorry, Six Lack, you have no shot here. Odds 500:1

“Crew” by GoldLink (ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy) – There’s no denying the fact that “Crew” is a banger with its fire verses and Brent’s smooth-as-fuck hook. It’s a track that I’d love to see performed live and that’s what this award is truly about. “Crew” may have a shot here, but don't get your hopes up. Odds 10:1

“LOYALTY.” by Kendrick Lamar (ft. Rihanna) – I love this song so much and seeing it win wouldn’t surprise me. Rihanna rapping her verse is so dope and she does it effortlessly. The fact that it samples Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” also makes it that much better (and it’s probably why Speedy loves this song so much too). Odds 4:1

“Love Galore” by SZA (ft. Travis Scott) – I have listened to this song the most time out of all the other nominees, so I’m a little bit biased. It’s too good! SZA makes a song about being played sound so sweet and Travis delivers a great verse that kept him relevant all of 2017 (among other guest spots). This is a strong contender that may earn them their first Grammy each. Odds 6:1

“Family Feud” by JAY-Z (ft. Beyoncé) – I agree with Jinx that “Family Feud” may win, but only because of Jay’s track record in this category. Seven of sixteen years this category has been in effect has gone to Jay. That’s insane. However, you all said it, Beyoncé is mostly on background vocals singing words like “higher” and “amen”, but since she’s technically credited as a featured artist on the track, it’s eligible for a nod. Odds 5:1

My winner: “Love Galore” by SZA (ft. Travis Scott)


Best Rap Album

Jay and Kendrick have one win each in this category for Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life and To Pimp a Butterfly, respectively. However, Jay has been nominated 10 times and Kendrick only three. One of these men will go home with a second Grammy in this category.

4:44 by JAY-Z – Is it Jay’s best? Obviously not, but it might be safe to say that it’s a Top 5 Jay album. There’s a chance that things go his way come Grammy night, but it’s still not clear. This is Jay/Shawn Carter at his most vulnerable and he finally responds to Lemonade. Something we've all been waiting for. Seeing his side to such a public story was very risky and it might pay off. Odds 4:1

DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar – Like Jinx said, it’s Kendrick’s time. This award goes hand-in-hand with Album of the year. Details below. Odds 2:1

Culture by Migos – A Top 10 album for me, but just not the best. They’re the epitome of what successful triplet-style rappers should sound like. They’re a team, but it’s also worth pointing out that they can do solo work and still sound great. Odds 10:1

Laila’s Wisdom by Rapsody – A sleeper album of 2017 that everyone needs to listen to ASAP. It’s got no shot, but it’s still amazing. She’s the only female represented in this category(!) and even has a Kendrick feature on it. Odds 100:1

Flower Boy by Tyler, The Creator – Tyler’s best album to date. It’s very cohesive and has some dope features from Frank Ocean, Kali Uchis, and A$AP Rocky. It’d be fun to see him (somehow) get away with this award, though. Odds 25:1

My winner: DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar


Album of the Year

The biggest award of the night is a coin toss. It’s obviously going to come down to Jay or Kendrick, but the three other nominees could put up a fight. Surprisingly, this is Jay’s first year nominated in this category, but it’s Kendrick’s third. It’s also Bruno’s second, but none of these artists have ever won and now one of them will. (Note: Awaken and 24K Magic came out at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016, just missing the deadline to be eligible for the 2017 Grammys).

“Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino – I love Gambino and I love the direction he went with this album, but it actually surprised me to see it nominated for Album of the Year. I think the newly diverse voting panel had something to do with it. They saw the success that Donald Glover was having with Atlanta and probably wanted to honor him even more with nod in this category. Though he may not win, it’s awesome to see him up for the big one. Odds 10:1

4:44 by JAY-Z – His first nomination in this category could possibly be his for the taking. Then again, last year they gave this award to Adele’s 25 (no shade; I love that album) over Beyoncé’s perfect Lemonade, so it could also be Jay's to lose. As I already mentioned, 4:44 is a side of him we don't often see and it could sway voters to pick him. Odds 4:1

DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar – This is the year that he finally gets his. In my previous TCG blog post, DAMN. is meticulously put together and every detail was well-thought out. Like Em said, it may be the best album released in the past five years. I just love the fact that you can reverse the order of the tracks and it turns into a totally different, second album. He deserves all the awards he can get. Especially this one. Odds 2:1

Melodrama by Lorde – This was actually my second favorite album of the year and Lorde could slap us all in the face with a win here. Melodrama is a strong album and it impressed me that she has left such an impression on pop music with only two albums under her belt and has just turned 21. She got Khalid, SZA, and Post Malone to jump on a killer remix of “Homemade Dynamite”. It just goes to show that she's a go-to for success. Odds 7:1

24K Magic by Bruno Mars – I agree with you all that Bruno appeals to almost everyone, myself included, so a win for him could be a win for all…right? Maybe. Yes, he’s clearly ripping from the 90s, but he also made it sound like a Bruno Mars original in a way. At only nine tracks, that was a risk he took, since voters usually go with albums with a little more depth and length, but it could work to his advantage. Odds 5:1

My winner: DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar


And in case you were curious, here are my Top 10 Albums of 2017:

1. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

2. Melodrama by Lorde

3. Ctrl by SZA

4. Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples

5. 4:44 by JAY-Z

6. Flower Boy by Tyler, The Creator

7. MASSEDUCTION by St. VIncent

8. American Teen by Khalid

9. Culture by Migos

10. Freudian by Daniel Caesar



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