FearlessRiOT Forecast: 2015 Grammy Awards (Rap & R&B Categories)

There is a reason I don’t do forecasts on the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and all the other staples of award show season; getting the opportunity to see everything nominated for these awards are too exhausting and time-consuming for my taste. Plus, compared to something like music, movies are not exactly my wheelhouse of critical breakdown. Don’t get me wrong, I will have some movie and TV-based Tuesday Top 10s coming up, but they’ll be few and far between compared to the music and wrestling ones. Luckily for the Grammy Awards, they’re supposed to be seen as the biggest night in music, where only the best of the best walk away with a coveted trophy. That’s right, it’s not a popularity contest…or is it?

OK, I’m not here to condemn the Grammys for their many, MANY wrong decisions of ceremonies past: I’m here to look forward to this year’s Grammys and predict who’ll win a golden gramophone. Now, keep in mind that the Grammys have tons of categories, most of which cover genres of music I’m not at all familiar with; I’m probably the last person you should trust with categories like “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance”, “Best Opera Recording”, or basically any other award that’s guaranteed to go out on the Grammy’s pre-show stream. But as for the major genres such as pop, rock, rap, R&B, country, and the general field? That’s a can-do for me.

The only problem with that is that it is still a load of awards to cover. Therefore, unlike the Slammy Awards Forecast, where I shoved a load of categories into on post, I’m gonna separate this all into four different posts and you can just read up on the fields that interest you: post #1 will cover the rock and country fields, post #2 will cover the rap and R&B fields, post #3 will cover the pop, dance, music video, and visual media fields, and the post will cover the Big 4 of Best New Artist, Song, Record, and Album of the Year. It may still take as much will power to read as it took for me to write (hence why I’ve decided not to do a Tuesday Top 10 this week), but hopefully it’ll be just as fun as sitting through the ceremony itself will be. I expect SO many piano ballads; I hope not, though. I have to miss out on most of Monday Night RAW for this, and anything that makes me miss my wrestling better be worth it! So let’s go ahead and dive into the rock and country fields to see what we’re dealing with there.


Best Rap Performance
J. Cole vs. Drake vs. Fetty Wap vs. Kendrick Lamar vs. Nicki Minaj vs. Kanye West

Rap Performance

Raise your hand if you are sick of “Trap Queen” yet…..notice my hands are still by my side. I strangely enjoy this song more now that it’s gone from the Billboard Hot 100 completely than I did when it was in the Top 10 of the chart. Now, raise your hand if you think Drake systematically destroyed Meek Mill’s career with “Back to Back”…..wow, that’s a lot of hands! Man, being musically bodied by a singer must STING (right, Vicky?) Now, raise your hand if this Grammy commercial featuring Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” moved you…..as well it should have! Powerful song, powerful statement! Now, show of hands if you knew what “Truffle Butter” was before the song…..some of you must be lying. Now, raise your hands if you helped J. Cole’s album go platinum…..good on you; you should’ve helped “Apparently” chart higher. Finally, show of hands for people who ever expected to see a hip-hop posse cut that includes a Beatle…well, that’s Kanye West for you; always trying to be the loudest, most groundbreaking one in the room.
Who I Want to Win: Part of me says Drake because I know I’m not the only one who’s still amused watching Meek Mill’s ‘L’s’ column get bigger. But honestly, I’m going with Kendrick.
Who Will Win: If not Kendrick Lamar, then Drake. One of the two. Or Kanye; the Grammys have always been suckers for him


Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
Big Sean, Kanye West, & John Legend vs. Common & John Legend vs. Jidenna & Roman GianArthur vs. Kendrick Lamar, Bilal, Anna Wise, & Thundercat vs. Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne, & Chris Brown

Rap-Sung Collabo

I’m not gonna lie, my personal favorite song in this category is “Classic Man”; I get so hyped when that song comes on. However, I also realize that Jidenna’s breakout hit is definitely not the straight-up best song in the category; it’s pretty much kind of brag-rapping about having high-class tastes and mannerisms. As far as meaning goes, “Glory”, “One Man Can Changed The World”, and even “These Walls” blows “Classic Man” out the water, replay value or not…OK, “These Walls” does have just as much replay value. Meanwhile, “Only” is damn near a comedy song; Nicki delivers some hilarious punchlines (“yeah, that was a setup for a punchline on duct tape”) while Drake delivers an all-around laughable verse that makes you think it was meant to land in The Lonely Island’s mailbox.
Who I Want To Win: I will bow to political correctness this one time and say Common & John Legend.
Who Will Win: Common & John Legend; who else?


Best Rap Song
“All Day” vs. “Alright” vs. “Energy” vs. “Glory” vs. “Trap Queen”

Rap Song

Up until writing up this Forecast, I’d never even heard “All Day” completely through. Even after listening to it, I don’t know if I’d put it under the list of Kanye’s best songs; I mean, it took 21 writers to mostly rhyme the n-word with itself over and over for five minutes. The song has been stuck in my head all week though, so that’s something. Then we have “Energy” by Drake, a song which had to grow on me (really, sitting through slow trap beats is a struggle for this writer most of the time), but lyrically, Drake is impressive on it. Fetty Wap put out an enjoyable song, but it’s kind of cliché, is it not? Am I the only one? Then there’s the two socially conscious songs of the bunch, “Glory” and “Alright”. Common and John Legend got an Oscar and a Golden Globe for their Selma anthem, so a Grammy would be expected. And “Alright” is equal parts catchy and optimistic with how woke it is.
Who I Want to Win: “Alright” by Kendrick for the win!
Who Will Win: Once Again, due to historical importance, I see Common and John Legend winning this one.


Best Rap Album
2014 Forest Hills Drive vs. Compton vs. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late vs. To Pimp A Butterfly vs. The Pinkprint

Rap Album

I like Drake; I think Drake is an amazing talent. But it was not easy sitting through his album/mixtape If You’re Reading, This Its Too Late. Trap beats are huge right now and Drake used them in abundance in this thing. Sadly, I’m  so tired of them and they’re so overdone. Luckily, Drake’s lyricism and presence makes up do  it. His fellow singing-rapper J. Cole released an introspective album that deserves a nomination not just because of content but also with how successful it was given the lack of features or even promotion. Meanwhile, Dr. Dre‘s entire promotion for Compton was basically the N.W.A. movie and the fact that the last time he released an album, his protege Eminem was still a breakout artist. And it worked for what it was, even if the featured artists completely stole the show. Then there’s Nicki Minaj with probably her most hip-hop album to date, reminding us why she’s the top female in the game. But let’s be honest, explaining all these albums is a formality because…
Who I Want to Win: Kendrick Lamar. Duh.
Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar. Duh.



Best R&B Performance
Tamar Braxton vs. Andra Day vs. Hiatus Kaiyote vs. Jeremih vs. The Weeknd

R&B Performance

Toni Braxton won her first Grammy Award in 1994 and won her latest Grammy last year for her collaborative album with Babyface; and along the way wore one of the most legendary dresses in ceremony history. This year, her sister Tamar is up for a Grammy for the 4th time and has a chance to win her first one with a decent little song called “If I Don’t Have You”. But does she have as much raw, killer vocal ability as newcomer Andra Day displays on “Rise Up”? Not exactly. But in my opinion, they’re both better singers than Jeremih, who is nominated for a song in which featured artist J. Cole is the highlight, at least in my personal opinion. Hiatus Kaiyote is an act I’m not very familiar with, but my research tells me they’re a white “future-soul” act from Australia. And yeah, their song “Breathing Underwater” sounds totally futuristic. And then there’s The Weeknd, who probably needs no explanation when it comes to his hit “Earned It”.
Who I Want to Win: Either Andra Day or Hiatus Kaiyote.
Who Will Win: Either Andra Day or The Weeknd.


Best Traditional R&B Performance
Faith Evans vs. Lalah Hathaway vs. Jazmine Sullivan vs. Tyrese vs. Charlie Wilson

Traditional R&B Performance

Look, I know the difference between “Best R&B Performance” and “Best Traditional R&B Performance”; “traditional R&B” refers to R&B music with a more conservative, old school sound. So I guess it makes sense that Charlie Wilson is nominated seeing as he’s a soul legend and “My Favorite Part of You” sounds like vintage Charlie (or at least most Charlie tracks I’ve heard where he’s getting his mack on with a woman). Meanwhile, Lalah Hathaway earns extra old school points for covering a song by her father, who was also an R&B performer. Tyrese obviously has the biggest hit of the group as “Shame” was #1 on the Adult R&B charts for a while before Adele came back. Jazmine Sullivan is one of the most underrated vocalists in R&B music. She’s been nominated several time before and has yet to win, but maybe she’ll work up a passionate fire in Grammy voters this year with “Let It Burn”. Or maybe Faith Evans can take it; she hasn’t won since “I’ll Be Missing You” and her talent certainly warrants one, doesn’t it?
Who I Want to Win: I like “Shame”, so Tyrese does it for me.
Who Will Win: Probably Lalah Hathaway.


Best R&B Song
“Coffee” vs. “Earned It” vs. “Let It Burn” vs. “Really Love” vs. “Shame”

R&B Song

As you could probably predict, every song in this category is based on love or some kind of a relationship. Knocking out the big one first, “Earned It” from The Weeknd, where he sings about a woman working hard enough to earn getting him the sack; since I’ve never seen Fifty Shades of Grey, someone must tell me if that’s how it worked with the two main characters. My only knowledge of this movie comes from Cinema Sins. Then we have D’Angelo singing about how he feels when a fine woman is in his company in “Really Love” and Jazmine Sullivan singing about how she wants a guy to feel when they’re in each other company in “Let It Burn”. Tyrese sings about wanting a girl back after he did her wrong in the past and Miguel is singing about the arguments he and his significant other have one night before having makeup sex and waking up for some daytime lovemaking. Yeah, I think we all know by now that R&B is the sexist genre on Earth, and these songs work as evidence, don’t they?
Who I Want to Win: The imagery in Miguel’s song is enough for me to endorse a win for him.
Who Will Win: The Weeknd is the big name; I think he has it won.


Best Urban Contemporary Album
Ego Death vs. You Should Be Here vs. Blood vs. Wildheart vs. Beauty Behind The Madness

Urban Contemporary Album

Much like Kendrick in Best Rap Album, it would seem like even typing a passage about this category doesn’t even see necessary, because right from the start, it seems like this one is The Weeknd’s. The only difference between this and that is that this category has less marquee names. The Weeknd’s sound has taken the world by storm while Miguel’s alternative R&B style has only made very minimal impact. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Kehlani, and when listening to her music, her voice is pretty good. I don’t know if I’d ever have You Should Be Here on repeat; not when I already have the similar and more fun Tinashe to listen to instead. Meanwhile, I swear i thought The Internet was a rap group; then again, I thought Run The Jewels was an alternative rock group before, so I suck at making assumptions. OK, so Run The Jewels did have that one song with the lead singer of Rage Against The Machine, but let’s get back on topic. Nope, just as advertised, The Internet are in fact an R&B act with hip-hop influence. And so is Lianne La Havas, who’s album goes back and forth from psychedelic to India.Arie-level acoustic.
Who I Want to Win: You know what, despite the promising competition, give it to The Weeknd.
Who Will Win: Y’all already know The Weeknd is winning this one.


Best R&B Album
Coming Home vs. Black Messiah vs. Cheers to the Fall vs. Reality Show vs. Forever Charlie

R&B Album

So two artists in-particular were gone from the spotlight for a number of years: Jazmine Sullivan and D’Angelo. Before 2015 Reality Show, Jazmine Sullivan hadn’t released an album since 2010, so what would her comeback provide? Well, an album that should appear to womankind everywhere with it’s content and blends of R&B and hip-hop production. D’Angelo’s upped the ante on Sullivan and stayed away since 2000 before dropping Black Messiah, an album with a solid throwback feel from his band The Vanguard; it’s something different from current the landscape. Leon Bridges‘ album is pretty similar with the throwback sound; in fact, despite being 26, he makes music that sounds like it dropped in the era of the Temptations and it sounds fine. Like Bridges, Andra Day is a new artist and her music makes me feel like Amy Winehouse has been reincarnated. And the title of the legendary Charlie Wilson’s album makes it sound like a Greatest Hits album. But nope, it’s full of new R&B and funk tracks…with  a reggae-flavored track added in for God knows why; maybe Snoop Lion helped Shaggy talked him into it.
Who I Want to Win: Andra Day for the win here.
Who Will Win: I get the feeling the Grammy will be rewarding D’Angelo.

Do you agree with the forecast? Who do you see winning a Grammy Award? Who are you rooting for to win? Do you even care? Tag me on Twitter@FearlessRiOT and let me know or leave a comment below. Then check out the Grammys this Monday on CBS to see which predictions come true. Hope you all enjoy the show!


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