2014 Grammy Nominations: Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore, Jay Z Put Hip Hop On Top

Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis make a strong showing for hip-hop in Album of the Year and Best New Artist categories.

Hip-Hop artists have had a turbulent relationship with the Recording Academy for over a decade now, with artists like Jay Z and Kanye West openly boycotting the Grammy Awards for their snubs, but this year, rap makes a much stronger showing than usual. Jay Z leads the 2014 Grammy nominations with nine, while Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are tied for seven in their first year nominated. Drake racked up five.

In 2002, Jay Z famously skipped the awards show declaring, "I am boycotting the Grammys because too many major rap artists continue to be overlooked" and he would do the same thing again in 2011 and 2012, despite winning awards for his Watch the Throne collaboration with Kanye West in the latter year. This past February, however, Hov's presence was felt, thanks to a performance with Justin Timberlake and that amazing moment where he smoothly brushed off the Grammy's "wrap it up" music to poke fun at The-Dream. That said, it looks like Jay might make another big showing in 2014.

His Magna Carta Holy Grail singles "Tom Ford," "Part II (On the Run)," and "Holy Grail" garnered nominations for Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Rap Song, respectively, while the LP itself is up for Best Rap Album. This year, that category includes Kanye West's Yeezus, Drake's Nothing Was the Same, Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' The Heist.

In 2012, Kanye West was absent from the Grammys despite winning Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and felt shut out of the Album of the Year race. In 2013, hip-hop was absent from the category again (the closest thing being Frank Ocean's R&B-leaning debut Channel Orange), but it looks like change has finally come. Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis broke the dry spell, earning Album of the Year nominations for their major-label debuts Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City and The Heist. To top that, both artists are nominated for Best New Artist.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis went on to earn five additional nominations, including Song of the Year for "Same Love" and Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for "Thrift Shop." "Up until a year, a year and a half ago, we were an underground rapper that only a small percentage of the population had heard," Macklemore told MTV News after being nominated.. "And to be here, and to reach this scale, I would have never thought that our music would affect this many people and be heard by this many people. It's the highest honor; it's the peak of what you strive for in terms of being recognized for the music that you make."

Kendrick Lamar and his TDE camp certainly have celebrations in order as well. In addition to nabbing those coveted nods for Album of the Year and Best New Artist (which has been denied to major acts like Drake and J. Cole), he also grabbed Best Rap Performance for "Swimming Pools" and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Now Or Never" featuring Mary J. Blige.

The attention of the hip-hop community will surely be focused on the showdown between Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as they go head-to-head in two of the biggest categories of the year, while we wait to see if Drake can pull two wins in a row in the Best Rap Album category, this time for Nothing Was the Same, after his last big win with Take Care. His hit single "Started From the Bottom," is a favorite at the upcoming show, grabbing nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

Kanye West (who blasted the Grammys back in February, once again) gained one additional nomination for Best Rap Song with "New Slaves," while Eminem's "Bezerk" showed up for Best Rap Performance, and newcomer Mack Wilds grabbed a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album with his debut New York: A Love Story--Mack Wilds. Pharrell Williams also earned seven nods, though those were scattered across the categories of pop and dance for his collaborations with artists like Robin Thicke and Daft Punk.