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Grammys 2018 Hip Hop Stars Jay-Z Kendrick Lamar Lead Nominations
Jay-Z picked up the most nominations for the 60th annual Grammy Awards. His album “4:44” received eight nods. Credit Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Grammys 2018: Hip-Hop Stars Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar Lead Nominations

Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar are the top contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, leading a crop of nominations that is heavy on hip-hop and R&B but has left some mainstream pop stars, including Ed Sheeran, shut out of major prizes.

Jay-Z got eight nods for his album “4:44,” which mixed dark personal confessions with meditations about race; Mr. Lamar had seven for “DAMN.,” a critical favorite and a smash on streaming services that also addressed racial politics and self-reflection. Bruno Mars had six nominations, and Childish Gambino, Khalid, SZA and No I.D. (Jay-Z’s producer) each had five.

With all major awards shows under scrutiny for how they incorporate diversity, the Grammy nominations are striking, as minority artists dominate the ballot in nearly all of the most prestigious categories, including record, song and album of the year.

Contenders for record of the year include Jay-Z for “The Story of O.J.”; Mr. Lamar for “HUMBLE.”; Mr. Mars for “24K Magic”; Childish Gambino for “Redbone”; and the Latin pop phenomenon “Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Justin Bieber.

For album of the year, Jay-Z and Mr. Lamar face Mr. Mars’s “24K Magic,”Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!” and Lorde’s “Melodrama.” Nods for song of the year went to the writers of “Despacito,” Jay-Z’s “4:44,” Mr. Mars’s “That’s What I Like,” Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” and Julia Michaels’s “Issues.”

Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” earned seven Grammy nominations, including album of the year and record of the year. Credit Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

 

Notably absent is Mr. Sheeran, whose tropical-tinged song “Shape of You” has been one of this year’s biggest hits. In 2016 Mr. Sheeran took home song of the year for “Thinking Out Loud,” but this time his two nods are outside the top fields: “Shape of You” for pop solo performance; and “÷” for pop vocal album.

The best new artist category includes the rapper Lil Uzi Vert, the singers Khalid and Alessia Cara, and two young women, SZA and Ms. Michaels, who have developed successful songwriting credentials in addition to their own work as performers. Ms. Cara and Khalid are also the featured singers on Logic’s “1-800-273-8255,” whose title is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The 60th annual awards will be broadcast from Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, the first time the Grammys will have been held in New York in 15 years.

The nominations this year all but guarantee that a nonwhite performer will win at least one of the major awards, which would reflect the current pop market but has been far from a given at the Grammys. At the 2017 awards, for example, the awards were criticized when Adele beat Beyoncé for all three top trophies.

Neil Portnow, the chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the organization behind the Grammys, called the mix of nominees “a really terrific reflection of the voting membership of the academy.” Those voting members, who number around 13,000, are “professionals who listen objectively to music and make a judgment,” he added.

The Grammys’ mixed record of recognizing black artists has also drawn complaints from major artists, including Frank Ocean, who refused to submit his albums “Blonde” and “Endless” for the 2017 awards, calling the boycott his “Colin Kaepernick moment.” This year, the rap star Drake did not submit “More Life,” a collection of songs he called a playlist. Drake has given no explanation for his decision.

In addition to Mr. Sheeran, some pop superstars — and longtime Grammy favorites — have a minimal presence, in genre categories down the list of this year’s 84 awards. Lady Gaga has two nods: “Million Reasons,” for pop solo performance; and “Joanne,” for pop vocal album. Harry Styles, the former One Direction heartthrob, was shut out altogether.

Taylor Swift also has two, as a songwriter: “Better Man,” which she wrote for the group Little Big Town, is up for best country song; and “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker),” for best song written for visual media. (Ms. Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” a recent No. 1 hit, is nowhere to be found.)

The contestants for best country album are Kenny Chesney’s “Cosmic Hallelujah,” Lady Antebellum’s “Heart Break,” Little Big Town’s “The Breaker,” Thomas Rhett’s “Life Changes” and Chris Stapleton’s “From A Room: Volume 1.” Miranda Lambert, whose “The Weight of These Wings”was considered a possible contender for album of the year, instead got nods only for country solo performance and country song (both for “Tin Man”).

Lorde’s “Melodrama” will face Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!,” Jay-Z’s “4:44,” Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” and Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic” for album of the year. Credit Nicole Fara Silver for The New York Times

 

The latest nominations bring Jay-Z’s career total to 74; he has won 21 times. Yet several of the most decorated artists this year are receiving their first nods, including SZA, Ms. Cara and Khalid, a 19-year-old soul singer whose debut album, “American Teen,” went to No. 3. Childish Gambino, a stage name of the actor Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) has been nominated twice before but never won.

Some of the most contentious categories this year include pop solo performance, which in addition to Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” and Mr. Sheeran’s “Shape of You” includes Kelly Clarkson’s “Love So Soft,” Kesha’s “Praying” and Pink’s “What About Us.” Jay-Z and Mr. Lamar dominate each of the four rap categories, but for best rap album they face Migos (“Culture”); Tyler, the Creator (“Flower Boy”); and Rapsody (“Laila’s Wisdom”).

For producer of the year, No I.D. is up against Calvin Harris, Blake Mills, the Stereotypes and Greg Kurstin, who won at the 59th annual ceremony this year.

As always at the Grammys, there are some head-scratchers. Leonard Cohen is up for best rock performance for “You Want It Darker,” facing Chris Cornell and Foo Fighters. For best traditional pop album, Seth MacFarlane is up against Bob Dylan and Tony Bennett, just as he was in 2016, when Mr. Bennett won.

The spoken word category includes Bruce Springsteen, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carrie Fisher, the songwriter Shelly Peiken and Bernie Sanders and Mark Ruffalo.

Recordings released from Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017, were eligible for nominations, and the recording academy said that it received more than 22,000 submissions.

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