The biggest winners at The GRAMMYs Noms: Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Hip Hop

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Grammy Nomination Show

The headlines read that Jay Z earned nine nominations, giving him the distinction of having the most nods for the 2014 Grammy Awards, but the artists who stole the show in the major categories and continue to dominate not only rap but music overall this year are unquestionably Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Not only will they be competing in the coveted Album Of The Year category (Jay won’t) they also received seven noms each.

Though both Kendrick and Macklemore were acknowledged for Best New Artist, their hard core fans will be quick to point out that each of them have been releasing music for almost a decade. Neither artist is an overnight success and instead has taken their time to craft their sound. For those of you asking how they can be considered new artists, look no further than the GRAMMYs website which states: “New artists have at least one chance to compete in the Best New Artist category, provided that the artist has not already won a Grammy. The current eligibility requirements state that the artist must have released, as a featured performing artist, at least one album but not more than three.” And no, mix tapes don’t count.

Now, I’ve been hearing some rumblings that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis should not be in the Rap category but in the Pop category instead. I have yet to hear any evidence to back that claim. One doesn’t need to do much research to see that Macklemore has been an underground rapper most of his career and even lists Freestyle Fellowship, Living Legends and Wu-Tang Clan among some of his influences. This is someone who taught spoken word workshops in prison to incarcerated youths, who has battled through addiction and put in decades of work to put on for his city (Seattle), not some gimmick created overnight by major label.

Two things that I don’t hear enough about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. One: They developed their own sound with contributions from homegrown talent like Mary Lambert, Ray Dalton, Wanz and Allen Stone, to name a few, instead of relying on over-hyped features. Two: is Macklemore and RL are helping pave a new path for independent artists, creating demand for their music through touring and creative viral videos on Youtube, so much so that mainstream radio–which rarely plays indy artists–has been forced to play them.

King Kendrick

In a rap industry that has been dominated by radio singles, which often lead to albums sounding more like compilations than cohesive projects, Kendrick Lamar has proven that you can go platinum and dominate rap without having to cater to what’s on the radio. I would argue that there hasn’t been a rap album that has impacted the culture more without a clear radio-driven single since Kanye’s The College Dropout. With his major label debut Kendrick didn’t chase hits, choosing instead to stay connected to the people and the city that helped him get signed in the first place. Good kid, m.A.A.d city sounds like a natural progression from his previous album, Section.80, which in turn was built from Overly Dedicated. Having patiently developed their own sound and artist roster, his label TDE has now restored some balance in hip-hop by shining light back on the West Coast.

Kendrick and Macklemore are true stories of perseverance and prove that substance is greater than hype even if it takes a decade to reach the masses. Personally, I hope record executives are paying attention and put more resources into developing storytellers and less into cloning rappers talking about turning up on every song. Contrary to what urban radio would have you believe we don’t all live in the club. And if the industry doesn’t get the memo, there will be a lot more independent artists up for nominations in the years to come.

A couple side notes:

* Eminem’s album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 isn’t eligible for the 2014 Grammys. For albums to be considered they must have come out between October 2012-September 2013. His album came out in November 2013.
* A lot of you have been asking me about J. Cole and Born Sinner. Personally, I would have liked to see Born Sinner get a nod for Best Rap Album or “Crooked Smile” get nominated for Best Rap Song, but he did get acknowledged for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Power Trip” featuring Miguel.

@NickHuff is the official Rap Blogger for TheGRAMMYS

Bonus material:
First interview Hard Knock TV conducted with Kendrick Lamar before he signed to Aftermath and Interscope:
First interview Hard Knock TV conducted with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis before the release The Heist:

List of key Rap and R&B Nominations are below. You can check out for full list.

Album Of The Year:
“The Blessed Unrest” — Sara Bareilles
“Random Access Memories” — Daft Punk
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” — Kendrick Lamar
“The Heist” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Red” — Taylor Swift

Record Of The Year:
“Get Lucky” — Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
“Radioactive” — Imagine Dragons
“Royals” — Lorde
“Locked Out Of Heaven” — Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines” — Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Song Of The Year:
“Just Give Me A Reason” — Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink Featuring Nate Ruess)
“Locked Out Of Heaven” — Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
“Roar” — Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)
“Royals” — Joel Little & Ella Yelich O’Connor, songwriters (Lorde)
“Same Love” — Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert)

Best New Artist:
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran


Best Pop Solo Performance:
“Brave” — Sara Bareilles
“Royals” — Lorde
“When I Was Your Man” — Bruno Mars
“Roar” — Katy Perry
“Mirrors” — Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
“Get Lucky” — Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
“Just Give Me A Reason” — Pink Featuring Nate Ruess
“Stay” — Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko
“Blurred Lines” — Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams  
“Suit & Tie” — Justin Timberlake & Jay Z  

Best Pop Vocal Album:
“Paradise” — Lana Del Rey
“Pure Heroine” — Lorde
“Unorthodox Jukebox” — Bruno Mars
“Blurred Lines” — Robin Thicke
“The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience” — Justin Timberlake

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
“Viva Duets” — Tony Bennett & Various Artists
“To Be Loved” — Michael Bublé
“The Standards” — Gloria Estefan
“Cee Lo’s Magic Moment” — Cee Lo Green
“Now” — Dionne Warwick

Best R&B Performance:
“Love And War” — Tamar Braxton
“Best Of Me” — Anthony Hamilton
“Nakamarra” — Hiatus Kaiyote Featuring Q-Tip
“How Many Drinks?” — Miguel Featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Something” — Snarky Puppy With Lalah Hathaway

Best Urban Contemporary Album:
“Love And War” — Tamar Braxton
“Side Effects Of You” — Fantasia
“One: In The Chamber” — Salaam Remi
“Unapologetic” — Rihanna
“New York: A Love Story” — Mack Wilds

Best R&B Album:
R&B Divas — Faith Evans
Girl On Fire — Alicia Keys
Love In The Future — John Legend
Better — Chrisette MicheleThree Kings — TGT

Best Traditional R&B Performance
“Please Come Home — Gary Clark Jr.
“Get It Right” — Fantasia
“Quiet Fire” — Maysa
“Hey Laura” — Gregory Porter
“Yesterday” — Ryan Shaw

Best R&B Song (A Songwriters Award)
“Best Of Me” — Anthony Hamilton & Jairus Mozee, songwriters (Anthony Hamilton)
“Love And War” — Tamar Braxton, Darhyl Camper, Jr., LaShawn Daniels & Makeba Riddick, songwriters (Tamar Braxton)
“Only One” — PJ Morton, songwriter (PJ Morton Featuring Stevie Wonder)
“Pusher Love Girl” — James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, Timothy Mosley & Justin Timberlake, songwriters (Justin Timberlake)
“Without Me” —  Fantasia Barrino, Missy Elliott, Al Sherrod Lambert, Harmony Samuels & Kyle Stewart, songwriters (Fantasia Featuring Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliot)


Best Rap Performance:
“Started From The Bottom” — Drake
“Berzerk” — Eminem
“Tom Ford” —  Jay Z
“Swimming Pools (Drank)” — Kendrick Lamar
“Thrift Shop” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration:
“Power Trip” — J.Cole Featuring Miguel
“Part II (On The Run)” — Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé
“Holy Grail” — Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake   
“Now Or Never” — Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige
“Remember You” — Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd

Best Rap Album:
Nothing Was The Same — Drake
Magna Carta…Holy Grail — Jay Z
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City — Kendrick Lamar
The Heist — Macklemore  & Ryan Lewis
Yeezus — Kanye West

Best Rap Song
“F***in’ Problems” — Tauheed Epps, Aubrey Graham, Kendrick Lamar, Rakim Mayers & Noah Shebib, songwriters (ASAP Rocky Featuring Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar)
“Holy Grail” — Shawn Carter, Terius Nash, J. Harmon, Timothy Mosley, Justin Timberlake & Ernest Wilson, songwriters (Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl & Krist Novoselic, songwriters) (Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake)
“New Slaves” — Christopher Breaux, Ben Bronfman, Mike Dean, Louis Johnson, Malik Jones, Elon Rutberg, Sakiya Sandifer, Che Smith, Kanye West & Cydell Young, songwriters (Anna Adamis & Gabor Presser, songwriters) (Kanye West)
“Started From The Bottom” — W. Coleman, Aubrey Graham & Noah Shebib, songwriters (Bruno Sanfilippo, songwriter) (Drake)
“Thrift Shop” — Ben Haggerty & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz)

Best Recording Package
Automatic Music Can Be Fun — Mike Brown, Zac Decamp, Brian Grunert & Annie Stoll, art directors (Geneseo)
Long Night Moon — Sarah Dodds & Shauna Dodds, art directors (Reckless Kelly)
Magna Carta…Holy Grail — Brian Roettinger, art director (Jay Z)
Metallica Through The Never —  Bruce Duckworth, Sarah Moffat & David Turner, art directors (Metallica)
The Next Day — Jonathan Barnbrook, art director (David Bowie)

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical
Rob Cavallo
Dr. Luke
Ariel Rechtshaid
Jeff Tweedy
Pharrell Williams

Best Music Video
Safe And Sound — Capital Cities (Grady Hall, video director; Buddy Enright, video producer)
Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film — Jay Z (Mark Romanek, video director; Shawn Carter & Aristides McGarry, video producers)
Can’t Hold Us — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Ray Dalton (Jon Jon Augustavo, Jason Koenig & Ryan Lewis, video directors; Tricia Davis, Honna Kimmerer & Jenny Koenig, video producers)
Suit & Tie — Justin Timberlake Featuring Jay Z (David Fincher, video director; Timory King, video producer)
I’m Shakin’ — Jack White (Dori Oskowitz, video director; Raquel Costello, video producer)



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