3 Black Grammy Awards Nominees Worth Watching in 2018

By Sameer Rao Nov 28, 2017

Hip hop and R&B artists of color dominate the nominations for the four most-anticipated Grammy Awards, which The Recording Academy unveiled this morning (November 28).

Black and Brown nominees constitute the majority of "Best New Artist" and "Album," "Song" and "Record of the Year" contenders. The Associated Press also notes that these categories feature no artists from the predominantly White rock and country music genres. Furthermore, the Los Angeles Times points out that these categories feature no White male nominees. It’s a significant departure from previous years, when critics accused the Grammys of celebrating White artists over those of color.

The Recording Academy honored Jay-Z and "4:44," with eight nominations just a year after it was criticized for awarding "Album of the Year" to Adele instead of Beyoncé. Hov—whose album addresses racial inequity and the infidelity that Beyoncé previously confronted on "Lemonade"—scored the most nominations for any individual artist. Those nods include one in each of the three aforementioned "of the Year" categories. Kendrick Lamar and his own hit 2017 record, "DAMN," followed close behind with seven nominations.

Black artists across genres also scored key nominations outside the top categories. These three nominees prove that Black musical genius knows no boundaries:

SZA for "Best New Artist"
Solána Rowe, known to fans as SZA, rose from critical darling to bonafide pop sensation this year with her genre-bending second album, "Ctrl." The lone female artist on Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment label tests the limits of R&B, electronica and hip hop on the album’s candid meditations on self-empowerment and love lost.

Body Count, "Black Hoodie" for "Best Metal Performance" 
Before he became a "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" staple, Tracy "Ice-T" Marrow made his name as a take-no-prisoners MC. He took that reputation to new creative realms and audiences—particularly outraged conservative politicians—with "Cop Killer," a 1992 single from his all-Black heavy metal band, Body Count. The group revisits that song’s theme of law enforcement racism with this year’s "Black Hoodie," a pummeling lament to Trayvon Martin and all Black people killed by police and legally exonerated vigilantes.

Daniel Caesar, "Freudian" for "Best R&B Album" 
Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar courted the mainstream this year with his debut full-length album, "Freudian." Like many great singers before him, Caesar channels his gospel training into stripped-down R&B songs about unrequited love and perseverance through loss.

See who wins when the 60th Grammy Awards air on CBS on January 28.